When Duke and Virginia meet, the two teams seem destined for close battles.
Saturday was no different.
The Cavaliers and Blue Devils were tight throughout Saturday’s matchup at Cameron Indoor Stadium, with Duke finally pulling away for a late February victory. Duke beat UVa 66-65, with the Cavaliers going scoreless in the final two minutes.
Kihei Clark shot a 3-pointer as time expired, but his jump shot came up short and Duke earned the hard-fought ACC win.
Here are three takeaways from UVa’s loss.
UVa played well enough to win Saturday. The offense was fantastic in the first half and the defense stepped up in the second half.
Unfortunately for Tony Bennett’s club, it wasn’t enough to defeat the Blue Devils. Virginia failed to score in the final two minutes, losing its 65-62 lead and ultimately dropping a one-point heartbreaker.
The defeat gives Virginia consecutive losses for the first time this season. It’s also the team’s third ACC loss, giving Florida State a clear path to the ACC regular-season title. The two teams had been tied at two ACC losses.
It’s a tough defeat for Virginia, especially considering its overall effort in Durham. The Cavaliers played well for stretches.
Duke made seven of its 12 attempts from 3-point range in the first half. Matthew Hurt gave the Cavaliers’ defense problems from the outside, but Virginia held Duke to just 2-for-11 shooting from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes.
Virginia’s effort was good, but it came up just short.
Sam Hauser hunts shot
Sam Hauser, an ACC Player of the Year candidate, hunted his shot Saturday night. The Marquette transfer went a perfect 5-for-5 in the first half, even throwing home a dunk.
By the end of the night, Hauser ended with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He made three of his five 3-point attempts.
When the redshirt senior seeks his shot and pulls up confidently, he’s a tough cover. While defenses like Georgia Tech can attempt to take him out of the game, his shooting touch and ability to score at every level makes him a challenging cover.
Efficiency makes Hauser a dynamic collegiate scorer. The Cavaliers need him to search for offensive opportunities the rest of the season if they want to reach their potential.
Even in the defeat, Hauser performed well Saturday.
Points in the paint
At times this season, Virginia seems reliant on the 3-point shot. Saturday, the Cavaliers didn’t fall in love with jumpers.
Redshirt senior center Jay Huff opened the second half with three consecutive dunks, punishing the rim. Duke seemed to switch matchups frequently, putting undersized defenders on Huff in the post. The 7-footer tried to take advantage of those matchups, especially in the final 20 minutes.
Virginia finished the game with 34 points in the paint. Huff ended the night with 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting. All of Huff’s made shots were inside the 3-point line.
It was a loss, but the Cavaliers had some bright spots, including Huff and Hauser near the rim.