Duke 104, Virginia 93
Virginia played its best game of the season, hanging tough against No. 1 Duke for more than 35 minutes, but the Blue Devils held strong in the closing minutes for a 104-93 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke freshman J.J. Redick, a sharp-shooting Roanoke native recruited heavily by Virginia, set a Blue Devils rookie record with 34 points, including 18 in a tightly contested first half. He and his teammates made 37 of 40 free throws, while the Cavaliers made 27 of 38, including 2 of 5 in their ultimately futile struggle to tie the game in the final three minutes.
"The free throw shooting -- that's the story of the game," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team committed 27 fouls to Virginia's 32. "There was never a real flow to the game. A lot of fouling going on by both teams and for our kids to hit those free throws . . . was key."
Virginia (10-4, 1-2 ACC) trailed 50-45 at halftime and stayed within five points of the Blue Devils (12-0, 3-0) for most of the second half. With 4 minutes 47 seconds left, Virginia small forward Devin Smith hit a pair of free throws to cut Duke's lead to 90-87.
Redick answered on the next two possessions. The 6-foot-4 guard, who had dominated the first half with three-pointers, drove into the lane and hit a leaner while drawing Jermaine Harper's fifth foul, then hit the ensuing free throw to push the lead back to five points. After Virginia's Todd Billet clanked a three-point attempt, Redick used his quickness again to draw a foul on a drive. His two free throws gave Duke a 95-87 lead with 3:59 remaining.
"Our problem was we just couldn't get stops when we needed it," Virginia Coach Pete Gillen said.
Krzyzewski said Redick -- who shot 9 of 13 from the field, including 5 of 6 on three-pointers, and 11 of 11 on free throws -- has already become "one of the outstanding players in the conference.
"He's not fast, but he's real quick with the ball," Krzyzewski said. "And because he has that weapon of a shot, it adds to his quickness."
Virginia senior Travis Watson (26 points) had a chance to cut the Duke lead to four on a pair of free throws with 2:46 left, but he missed both, leaving the margin at 95-89. The Cavaliers got no closer the rest of the way, as the Blue Devils, who had shot 69 percent from the line before tonight, hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final 1 1/2 minutes.
Duke point guard Chris Duhon, who has more assists and a better assist-to-turnover ratio than any other player in the ACC, tied a season low with six points on 1-of-5 shooting, but the Blue Devils compensated with scoring from Redick, senior small forward Dahntay Jones (23 points) and freshman big man Shavlik Randolph (17).
Redick scored "every time they needed a hoop. He was terrific," Gillen said. "We couldn't stop him or their team."
Watson, who played 29 minutes because of foul trouble, led four Cavaliers who scored in double figures. Sophomore power forward Elton Brown (19 points) had one of his best games of the season, while junior guard Todd Billet -- Jones's former teammate at Rutgers -- added 18 points and sophomore point guard Keith Jenifer had 12.
Duke's slim margin at halftime was reminiscent of last season's Virginia visit to Cameron. In that game the Cavaliers were tied at halftime before falling behind by double digits in the opening five minutes of the second half. Tonight, after shooting 58 percent in the first half to Duke's 56 percent, they stayed in the Devils' rear-view mirror.
Virginia beat Duke in Charlottesville in each of the past two seasons, but the Cavaliers have lost 42 of 50 games at Cameron, including eight straight and 18 of 20 since Ralph Sampson's 1983 graduation.
Notes: Johnny Dawkins set the previous Duke freshman scoring record (31 points) 20 years ago tonight. . . . Virginia freshman Derrick Byars played 18 minutes after missing most of Saturday's game against North Carolina after his left shoulder popped out of joint in the opening minute. . . . Virginia has allowed at least 100 points in five of its past six games at Duke. . . . The Cavaliers are 1-24 against top-ranked teams.