The last time that the Virginia Cavaliers beat a ranked team was over 10 years ago when they defeated the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils, 87-84. On Feb., 28th, 2013, it was deja’ vu for both teams because Virginia faced No. 3 Duke and won the game, 73-68. Joe Harris led Virginia with 36 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two assists. Akil Mitchell was his sidekick for the evening, adding a double-double consisting of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Duke was led by Seth Curry, who finished the game with 28 points and three rebounds. Quinn Cook added 22 points, two rebounds and two assists. NCAA and ACC Player of the Year candidate Mason Plumlee finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Virginia’s small ball lineup with four guards and one forward was very effective against Duke. Virginia started the game on fire, like they were in NBA Jam. Virginia had Duke, 15-4. They made six of their first nine shots, while Duke missed nine of their first 11 shots. By the end of the first half, Duke battled back to narrow the gap to a five-point lead at halftime by the score of 28-23.
Virginia’s stifling defense prevented two of Duke’s key players from having big games. Virginia denied Plumlee the ball. Plumlee only had five shot attempts the entire game. In addition, Rasheed Sulaimon missed all of his field goals. Likewise, Virginia also controlled the boards. They out-rebounded Duke, 33 to 21. Another alarming fact about this game is that Duke never led in this game.
This win places Joe Harris in the conversation for ACC Player of the Year. He should also be a shoe-in for making first team all-ACC. Expect to see one of the best ACC Tournaments in a long time.