In a white knuckle finish that underscored the stakes, Virginia had a chance of winning the ball, but Kihei Clark’s three-pointer on the buzzer fell well short, leaving the Cavaliers on the short end, 66-65, at Durham , NC, back. and drop them into second place in the conference behind Florida State.
Jay Huff led the Cavaliers by 20 points and Sam Hauser added 19, but Virginia (15-5, 11-3) not only lost the game but also the inside lane on the top seed for the ACC tournament for him lost his head. Head-to-head tiebreaker with the Seminoles after losing in Tallahassee on Monday.
Matthew Hurt led Duke (10-8, 8-6) by 22 points and Jaemyn Brakefield tossed in 11 points, no more than his last basket which produced the crucial points and sent the Cavaliers to their second loss in one Line.
Clark’s three-pointer from the right corner gave Virginia a 3:48 lead. Two free throws from Huff held the advantage at three, at 65-62, at 3:09, before the Blue Devils went 66-65 at Brakefield’s layup while being fouled at 1:59 to play.
Brakefield missed the bonus and in the final seconds led to an insane fight that involved a held ball. The possession arrow favored the Blue Devils with 11.5 seconds of play. DJ Steward then missed the front end of a one-and-one and Clark ended up unable to convert.
The Cavaliers had the biggest lead in the second half, taking the lead with 6:51 in Clark’s traditional three-point game with 56:51. Duke linked the score to Wendell Moore Jr.’s Springer a few minutes later, followed by Steward’s three-pointers.
Early in the second half, Virginia took the lead by four points at 49:45, 13:02 to play behind successive jumpers from second guard Casey Morsell. The former high star of St. John’s College left the game minutes later with a cut under his right eye.
Huff continued aggressively into the process in the second half, especially with five dunks, the fourth of which was an inverted two-handed on a praise pass from Hauser. The basket gave Virginia a 51-49 lead that was short-lived; Henry Coleman III. Collected Jeremy Roachs missed three point attempt and scored on a layup that even got the Blue Devils to play at 9:26.
Apart from cardboard clippings instead of the usual “Cameron Crazies”, Duke also missed 6-foot-9 striker Jalen Johnson. The scheduled lottery election announced Monday that he would be signing out for the remainder of the season in preparation for the NBA draft. There was backlash in some circles, but the support of coach Mike Krzyzewski and his teammates.
The Blue Devils won their first game without Johnson by throttling Wake Forest (84-60) on Wednesday and had Virginia on their heels for parts of the first half of Saturday. Brakefield came off the bench to rekindle Duke, scoring seven straight hits to open a four point lead, 5:10 by halftime.
Clark and Hauser helped bring the lead back to a ball in the final minutes, scoring nine points as the Cavaliers walked into the locker room at 39:36.