DURHAM, N.C., FEB. 7 -- When playing against a quality team on the road, the idea is to play hard, stay close and perhaps get lucky at the end. Tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Virginia managed the first two, but Duke never let luck enter the picture, maintaining control down the stretch for an 86-74 Atlantic Coast Conference victory.
Christian Laettner led the No. 6 Blue Devils (19-4, 7-2) with 22 points; Grant Hill and Thomas Hill scored 16 each. The 11th-ranked Cavaliers (17-5, 5-3) got 28 points from Kenny Turner.
Duke threatened to blow out the visitors at several points, leading by 13 points in the second half when Bryant Stith (16 points) picked up his third and fourth personal fouls in the opening two minutes.
Still, Virginia persevered, closing to 62-56 with 7:43 remaining. But Jeff Jones's team got no closer. Duke forward Greg Koubek converted a three-point play, then hit a three-point jump shot to extend the lead to 68-56.
"We were really cutting into their lead but Koubek hit some big shots," said Virginia guard John Crotty. "They got a couple of offensive rebounds to keep us from getting closer. . . . It was frustrating but that's the nature of the game. We've done it to other teams before."
The Cavaliers fouled in order to get the ball back, but the Blue Devils made 10 of 11 from the free throw line. That kept Virginia at bay and atoned for an 81-64 loss in Charlottesville in the ACC opener.
"We tried to really downplay that. We've been playing very well without revenge as a motivator," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. "If I start to bring revenge into play I don't know how my team will react, I do know how they'll play if I ask them to play hard."
With Stith picking up those two fouls in the first two minutes of the second half, Jones replaced him with football halfback Terry Kirby. The sophomore didn't score during his first three minutes but Virginia did close to 46-38 with 15:20 left.
That began a series of spectacular plays by both teams. First, Grant Hill drove to the basket, had the ball knocked away but regained control in mid-air to complete the layup. Seconds later, teammate Brian Davis wove from one side of the court to the other to score on a drive.
In response, Turner hit a three-point basket from well behind the collegiate line. The next time he got the ball, the senior forward was forced to double clutch in midair, but still converted a long jumper.
The Cavaliers struggled at the start, turning over the ball eight times in the first eight minutes and falling behind 16-8. Duke extended its lead to 21-10 with 9:15 remaining in the first half before reserve guard Doug Smith scored on a layup and Turner added two free throws for Virginia.
After a basket by Grant Hill and a free throw by Antonio Lang, Cornel Parker made a layup and Stith hit a three-point basket to make the score 24-19 with 6:28 left.
The Cavaliers once again fell behind by double digits before rallying, cutting the deficit to 34-28 after a three-point play by Turner with 1:37 to play.
Virginia had a chances to cut even further into the Duke lead. First, Parker missed two free throws with 1:13 remaining, with Laettner getting one of two from the line for Duke at the other end. Seconds later, Virginia tried to hold for the last shot but Parker missed a wild jumper with five seconds left. Grant Hill grabbed the rebound and found Bill McCaffery alone at midcourt. The sophomore went in uncontested, scoring a layup at the buzzer for Duke's 37-28 lead.
"I told the guys that against a team as good as Duke we couldn't afford to blow as many opportunities as it seemed we did," said Jones. "In the first half we had so many turnovers. In the second we battled hard but just couldn't make the plays that we needed to."