In top-five battle, Virginia leaves Cameron Indoor with the edge

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Virginia's Kyle Guy (5) leads his team off the court following a 65-63 victory over Duke in an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

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Sports Writer

Saturday, January 27, 2018

DURHAM —- The shot was confident, audacious, cold-blooded and deep.

Really deep.

It was surprising, potentially ill-advised, probably game-changing, and, in the end, definitely crowd-quieting.

Ty Jerome, his team up two with less than 40 left, ball-faked first, throwing Duke’s Trevon Duval off just enough to create a few necessary inches of space.

Then, from about five feet behind the three-point line, he launched.

It fell, and it put Virginia up five points with 37.6 seconds left.

Then it put a close-mouthed spell on Cameron Indoor Stadium.

It was the resounding play in a 65-63 victory for No. 2 Virginia over No. 4 Duke on Saturday afternoon, just a few hours after North Carolina fell to N.C. State in Chapel Hill, the first time both programs dropped a game at home on the same day since February of 1973.

“Definitely was surprised (Jerome) took it,” Duval said. “I was right there. My hand was up and everything. He made a really tough shot, a great shot. I guess he had the confidence to take that shot.”

Duke hung around a little longer, thanks to a pure three-pointer from Marvin Bagley III to cut the lead to two with less than 10 seconds left, but two made free-throws in response by Virginia’s Kyle Guy made the lead four, and a futile tipped-in layup by Bagley III at the buzzer ended it, a titanic battle between two top-five teams, where Virginia’s defense and experience won out over Duke’s prolific offense.

Bagley III, the engine behind the attack, tallied 30 points and 14 rebounds, missing just five times in 18 tries in forty minutes. He, Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. played the entire game, with Mike Krzyzewski using only two bench players for a total of six minutes.

“We’re in really good shape. There were so many timeouts and stops in action,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m sure that fatigue was not the factor.”

The Blue Devils indeed came alive in the second half, their worst basketball coming with fresh legs down the stretch of the first 20 minutes. They led early, 6-5, but played catch up the rest of the first half, relinquishing a 20-13 run to the Cavaliers over a 12-minute span.

Guy, who finished with a team-high 17, scored 10 in the first half. Devon Hall added nine and finished with 14, and Virginia entered the break up 10 points, 32-22.

“We were a really good basketball team in the second half,” Krzyzewski said. “We were a young team in the first half.”

Duke chipped away at the lead, then regained it, beginning play with a 19-7 run in the first eight minutes. With 10 minutes left, Allen sifted a pass through the top-ranked Virginia defense for a driving Bagley III layup, putting the Blue Devils up four, their largest lead of the game.

Cameron Indoor was shaking, but the Cavaliers showed the type of poise synonymous with the second ranking in the country. De’Andre Hunter hit a jumpshot to pull within two and Mamadi Diakite tied it up a possession later.

After a soft-bounce three-pointer by Bagley III, Hunter hit another basket to stay within one. It was a theme throughout the second half: Virginia had the firepower on offense to stay with Duke, and the fortitude on defense to prevent a game-ending run.

Hunter, who finished with 12, broke a tie at 55 with five minutes left, then Kyle Guy a few moments later hit a three-pointer from the corner to go up five points.

The Blue Devils fought to pull within two points with 90 seconds left, with Bagley III securing a miss and outletting to Duval, who, with his team just a basket from tying, rushed an up-court pass that Jerome was waiting for on defense. A costly turnover, certainly amplified by the fact that the very next play was Jerome’s clinching three-point shot.

“That pass we throw all the time,” said Allen, defending his teammate. “You obviously have to know the time but that’s a huge part of our offense. It’s hard to just turn off there at the end, so I can’t really blame him for making that pass.”

Allen again struggled from the field, making 2 of 8 shots for five points. Behind Bagley III was Wendell Carter Jr.’s 14 points and 15 rebounds.

It all added up to just too little to beat the Cavaliers, though Krzyzewski, with high hopes going forward, liked a select amount of what his team did.

“We fought. All this stuff is a big learning experience for these guys,” he said. “You’re playing one of the best teams in the country, so you’ve got to be able to do it at that level. That’s what we have to keep learning and we are learning. We’re getting better.”