By Ryan Goodman
February 2nd, 2015
With Duke coming off a tough loss on the road at #8 Notre Dame just three days before, Tony Bennett and his Virginia Cavaliers had a golden opportunity to finally put themselves in the top tier of college basketball, among the likes of Kentucky, and well, Kentucky. The problem is, that Duke has already been tested on the road by a top five team and passed the test with flying colors.
This was a classic match up of talent vs discipline, and sometimes talent and shot making simply outweigh what a team can do defensively, which was unfortunately the story in this one.
The two methods that Duke almost had to employ if they going to have a realistic chance at beating the super-stingy Cavs in Charlottesville were to either make 10+ three pointers, or somehow find a way to push the break and score before Virginia could set up their pack-line defense. Mike Krzyzewski decided to bank on the latter.
With just under ten minutes left in the first half, Duke was pushing a five point lead, threatening to expand it even further. Freshman forward Justise Winslow was receiving outlet pass after outlet pass and forcing his way to the rim, to lead all scorers with 8 points. Both teams traded blows the rest of the half, and the Cavaliers headed into the locker room down one.
Tony Bennett’s halftime speech must have sparked something inside the Wahoos, because they came out with a fire in the second half, especially Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia’s do-it-all junior guard. Brogdon scored 7 points in a three minute span, combined with five consecutive stops for the pack-line D, that amounted to a nine-point Virginia lead that seemed to happen just as quickly as it started.
With five minutes left, Virginia holding a nine point edge and One made three pointer on the game for the Blue Devils, fans around John Paul Jones knew that this game was a few baskets away from being blown wide open.
Except Duke then did the most Duke thing they could possibly do thereafter. Going 5-7 from beyond the arc in the last five minutes (with three of those from senior captain Quinn Cook), and capping a 19-7 run to close out the Cavaliers, ruining the Wahoo faithful’s hopes of an undefeated season in abrupt fashion.
The final dagger came with 11 seconds to go, Duke up 66-63. Freshman point guard Tyus Jones squared up his defender and launched a 23 foot bomb that hit the bottom of the net, forcing the raucous crowd in JPJ to fall dead silent, and reluctantly swallow their first defeat.
Jones’ stats in two top five road wins: 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists
Next up: The road doesn’t get any easier for the Cavaliers, who travel to #12 North Carolina on Monday and host #9 Louisville on Saturday.