On Saturday, the #2 Duke Blue Devils took a trip to the John Paul Jones Arena to take on the #3 Virginia team. While the Cavaliers played tough throughout, it was the Blue Devils who eventually gutted out the 81-71 victory.
Despite the 10-point deficit, the game was closer than it looked, but it was Duke’s shooting that really made the difference. The Blue Devils came out hot from behind the arc in the first half, shooting a whopping 8-for-11 from deep. Things expectedly cooled off a bit as the game progressed, but Duke would go on to shoot 61.9% from three and 57.8% from the field.
As far as who controlled the game, it was the usual suspects for the boys in blue: RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, who had 26 and 18 respectively. For Virginia, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome led the way with 16 points a piece, but that simply wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught.
The most entertaining moment of the game came late in the second half when great ball movement by Virginia led to what looked like a wide-open corner three—until Zion closed out and jumped out of the gym to swat it away. This was truly one of the best close-out blocks we’ve ever seen, and it gave us a glimpse of what we could be seeing out of the young star for many years to come.
For Duke, this win was important in numerous ways. Not only did the Blue Devils prove they have the talent to take on top teams, they showed that they have the ability to play tough and close out big games on the road as well as at home. The defense from both teams—aside from the absurd 3PT shooting Virginia allowed from Duke—was solid. Both teams forced plenty of turnovers against an opponent who usually does a good job of keeping them to a minimum.
In a potential preview of one of the Final Four matchups, Duke showed it belongs among the top teams and set the tone in a big way.