Duke hits from outside to beat Virginia again
RALEIGH, N.C. » Secondranked Duke got rolling from 3-point range, then took a big step toward winning the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season race.
The Blue Devils beat third-ranked Virginia, 8171, on Feb. 9 in a matchup of league heavyweights ahead of the Feb. 11 new AP Top 25 poll.
That secured a regularseason sweep of the reigning league champion Cavaliers.
Now the Blue Devils (212, 9-1 ACC) hold the headto-head tiebreaker with the Cavaliers (20-2, 8-2) entering the final month of the schedule, which will make it tougher for Virginia to catch them in the standings.
Virginia’s two losses to Duke mean the Cavaliers have lost more games against league opponents this year compared with its 20-1 run during last year’s regular-season and tournament titles.
Maybe more importantly, Duke’s torrid 3-point shooting showed how difficult it will be for any team — inside or outside the league — to stop the Blue Devils if their outside shots are falling.
Duke entered Feb. 9 shooting 30.8 percent from behind the arc, ranking 13th among the ACC’s 15 teams. That is on pace to finish as by far the worst mark in program history, and Duke had made 14 of 50 3s (28 percent) in the two games entering its trip to Charlottesville.
But with the Cavaliers working to clog the lane, Duke made 13 of 21 tries against a defense that ranks No. 3 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency (86.4 points allowed per 100 possessions).
If the Blue Devils are able to stretch defenses that well going forward, there will be even more driving lanes for freshman stars RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson.