The Virginia Cavaliers (15-9, 9-5) pulled off the upset win over the seventh-ranked Duke Blue Devils (19-4, 9-3) in Durham. Reece Beekman hit the game-winning three from the left wing with 1.1 seconds to go, and the Hoos would knock off the Blue Devils, 69-68. Jayden Gardner paced Virginia with 17 points. Kadin Shedrick played a crucial role on the inside, as he went perfect from the field and finished with a career-high 16 points; the Cavaliers finished with 52 points in the paint. Kihei Clark dished out nine assists, including the pass that set up Beekman’s winning shot.
It was a back-and-forth game in the beginning, but UVA would go on an 8-0 run to lead 23-17. Not long after, the Hoos would go on a 9-0 run to give them their biggest lead of the game, as they led 32-20. UVA led at the end of the first half, 34-29. Gardner and Armaan Franklin finished the half with eight points each. Shedrick and Francisco Caffaro finished with six each.
The Hoos did what they could to hold off Duke for as long as possible. Duke would consistently get within one possession, but UVA would answer to keep the Blue Devils at bay. However, Duke’s Jeremy Roach would connect on his jumper to give the Blue Devils a 64-63 lead with 4:02 to go. Beekman would score on a layup to tie the game at 66 with 1:47 left, then Duke’s Trevor Keels would knock down two free throws to give Duke a two-point lead.
The Hoos would have a chance to tie, but Duke’s defense stood tall to force a Franklin miss. Duke’s Theo John would secure the rebound, but Clark tied him up, and UVA had the possession arrow, which allowed the Cavaliers to regain possession. From the baseline, Beekman would inbound the ball to Clark. Clark would size up Duke’s Paolo Banchero, then give it back to Beekman. Banchero went to close out Beekman, but it was too late. Beekman’s shot would go up and hit nothing but net for the Hoos’ win.
It is surprising to say the Cavaliers won the game off a made three-point attempt, as it was only their second make on 12 tries. Despite this, UVA was efficient from the field, shooting just under 48% as a team. A big key to the upset was the Hoos’ defense. They were able to force 15 turnovers. Franklin led the way with four steals. Virginia scored 20 points off these turnovers. On the other hand, the Cavaliers only turned the ball over five times, which Duke only scored two points on.
The team was also able to slow down Duke’s stars. Banchero, who is a projected top three pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, finished with nine points, all coming in the first half. A.J. Griffin, who was coming off a 27-point performance against the North Carolina Tar Heels, managed just two points. In only 19 minutes of action, Mark Williams led the way for Duke with 16 points. The Blue Devils scored 18 points off free throws, compared to UVA’s five, but the turnovers and shooting about 42% from the field hurt the Blue Devils’ chances. Overall, the Hoos were much more physical than the Blue Devils, and this allowed UVA to pull off the upset.
The Cavaliers have now won four of their last five games. The win over Duke is another win to put on their resume come March, along with their wins over Providence, who are currently ranked 11th, and Miami. After a slow start, Virginia sits in sixth place in the ACC; however, they are one game behind Duke for first. The conference is tight, and no team has pulled away yet, and the Cavaliers are right in the mix. Up next, Virginia will take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-12, 3-8) on Saturday, February 12th at 4 P.M. at John Paul Jones Arena.