Three points: Limiting turnovers, strong start will help No. 10 Duke men's basketball against Virginia's stingy defense

No. 10 Duke will take on a stout Virginia team in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the Blue Zone is here with three keys to victory:

Start strong 

In the eight games Virginia has lost this season, it was trailing at halftime. The Blue Devils should definitely take advantage of home court early in the game before giving Virginia any chance to keep the game tight. Keep in mind that the Cavaliers are coming off a very close win against Boston College and have shown the capacity to win in tight games, including a 59-53 overtime win against N.C. State, and a one-point win at Clemson. Moreover, Virginia has never lost by fewer than 10 points this season, meaning that Duke will probably have to generate a very strong lead if it wants to win comfortably and avoid any comebacks from the Cavaliers. This season, Virginia has been notorious for its tendency to go on huge scoring runs, like an 11-0 spirt in the second half against the Eagles that helped boost the team to victory late in the fourth quarter. Hence, making sure that the Cavaliers don’t gain any sort of momentum will be especially key for Duke. 

Defend the three

Throughout the season, Virginia has shown its capacity to drain an efficient amount of threes. So far, the team is averaging 36.5% from beyond the arc, yet consistency has also been an issue for the Cavaliers. While the team did just come from a game where it scored eight threes, it has also had some meager performances. In the first half of the blow-out loss against Virginia Tech Feb. 19, the Cavaliers went 2-for-12 from beyond the arc en-route to a 31-point defeat. Similarly, in the 19-point loss against Wake Forest Jan. 31, the Cavaliers went 1-for-4 from beyond the arc in the first half as well. If Duke is able to limit Virginia’s long-range shooting early in the game and limit senior guard Reece Beekman’s passing lanes, there is a better chance that the Blue Devils will win the game. 

Limit turnovers

If there is one thing that separates Virginia from the rest of the teams in the ACC, it's the tenacious defense. The Cavaliers are currently ranked as the third best defense in the entire country just behind Houston and Saint Mary’s, allowing an average of 58.7 points. On average, Virginia has caused 358 turnovers compared to just 237 from their opponents. Simply put, the Cavaliers feed off of turnovers, so it will be crucial for Tyrese Proctor and Jeremy Roach, Duke’s primary ball handlers, to take care of the ball and not turn it over down the stretch. Although Virginia’s defense does deserve merit, it has nonetheless struggled to contain great offensive players. In the Wake Forest game, Hunter Sallis erupted and went off for 21 points. Likewise, in the 74-63 loss against Pittsburgh Feb. 13, Blake Hinson went off for an impressive 27 points to lead his team to a crucial win. Whether it be McCain with his efficient shooting, Kyle Filipowski with his scoring ability or even Roach with his pull-up jumper, the Blue Devils will need someone to step up and go off. 


Share and discuss “Three points: Limiting turnovers, strong start will help No. 10 Duke men's basketball against Virginia's stingy defense” on social media.