CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—A far different game than the one at Cameron Indoor Stadium produced the same result Saturday night for Duke, which knocked off a top-three Virginia team for the second time in three weeks.
After relying on isolations with R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson getting to the bucket at will in a two-point win in Durham, the No. 2 Blue Devils used superb ball movement and lights-out shooting to take down the third-ranked Cavaliers 81-71 at John Paul Jones Arena. Barrett led the way with 26 points and Duke's four freshmen combined for 74 as the Blue Devils shot 13-for-21 from long distance.
Duke owns the top two scoring performances against Virginia's pack-line defense this season after scoring 72 in the teams' first matchup, and 81 was the most points anybody has scored against the Cavaliers since January 2017.
"As good as the game in Durham was, this was better. I thought both teams played outstanding basketball," Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It’s the best we’ve shot from the 3-point line, and obviously it’s a huge difference. They’re outstanding, and we’re really good too."
Duke (21-2, 9-1 in the ACC) led by just five with five minutes left after a De'Andre Hunter 3-pointer for Virginia, but the Cavaliers never pulled within one possession in the second half. Marques Bolden made a layup to pad the Blue Devils' cushion and Williamson swatted another Hunter attempt several rows into the seats on the next play. Williamson finished the sequence by powering into the paint for a bucket to effectively silence any hope of a Virginia comeback.
"Coach said no threes, so I just tried to get out there and make him drive," Williamson said of his highlight-reel rejection. "He shot it, so I blocked it. That’s how it is."
Duke blitzed the Cavaliers (20-2, 8-2) out of the gates, knocking down its first five 3-point attempts and seven of its first eight to take a 29-15 lead in the first 12 minutes. Barrett was particularly hot, making five straight triples to top his career high for an entire game during that span.
At the center of the onslaught was point guard Tre Jones, who sat out the two teams' first matchup of the season with a separated shoulder. Although Jones went scoreless in the first half, he pushed the pace after Virginia misses and collapsed the Cavaliers' pack-line defense with his dribble penetration, allowing Barrett to take relatively open catch-and-shoot triples in rhythm. The Blue Devils outscored Virginia 17-0 in fast-break points, and Jones finished with seven assists after Duke tallied just six as a team without him on the floor in Durham.
"They pack the lane a lot, so when we were driving, they help off of guys," Jones said. "The kick was open, and we’ve just been in the gym a lot lately working on our shots because we haven’t been hitting them. The time that we’ve been putting in definitely paid off today."
But Virginia turned the tide in the closing minutes of the half, using an 11-3 run to trim the deficit to four heading into the locker room. Guy sank two 3-pointers during the run, including a tough stepback off the dribble, reserve point guard Kihei Clark added a corner triple and the Cavaliers forced turnovers on the Blue Devils' last two possessions to bring an electric crowd in Charlottesville to its feet.
Krzyzewski responded by putting a small lineup on the floor to start the second half, inserting junior forward Jack White instead of Bolden. The adjustment created more space for shooters like Cam Reddish, as the freshman nailed three triples before the under-16 timeout to put Duke in front by 11.
"Just like at home, when you hit those big shots and your crowd gets into it, on the road, it’s the exact opposite," Jones said. "Their crowd is into it, you make a big play and it silenced them, and that’s how you know you’re doing the right thing."
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Jones then took it upon himself to score seven straight Blue Devil points during a six-minute span, keeping the hosts at arm's length after they cut the lead to five thanks to a brief spark by 7-foot-1 Durham native Jay Huff. Jones scored all 13 of his points after the break.
"Tre’s not getting much credit for his shooting and scoring with passing and defense, but tonight, he made a couple of big-time shots," Krzyzewski said. "Whenever they kind of had a run, one of our guys answered, and it was really kind of neat to see kids step up that way. Not one guy—they kind of took turns doing it."
Duke will hope to remain unbeaten on the road this year in another hostile environment at No. 16 Louisville, which lost in overtime at No. 22 Florida State earlier Saturday.
"It’s obviously tough to play on the road, especially in the ACC. Every crowd is great. Every team is really, really good," Reddish said. "We just trust each other and play together."