By Sally Fahey
No. 1 Duke played its first game without injured point guard Tre Jones.
But Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett stepped up and Virginia is undefeated no more.
The two freshmen combined for 57 points, scoring every Duke point but three over the final eight minutes, as the Blue Devils beat visiting No. 4 Virginia 72-70.
Jones, who suffered a separated shoulder in last Monday’s 95-91 overtime loss to Syracuse, was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season. But his fellow freshmen Barrett (30 points) and Williamson (27) made up for his loss as Duke (15-2, 4-1 in ACC) handed Virginia (16-1, 4-1) its first loss of the season.
The Cavaliers shot 52.8 percent but made just 3 of 17 3-pointers. DeAndre Hunter scored 18 points while Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome had 14 each for Virginia.
Though making just 2 of 14 3-pointers, Duke shot 51 percent. The Blue Devils hit 12 of 15 shots inside the 3-point arc during the second half.
A back-and-forth second half saw Duke lead by as many as five points before Virginia climbed back into it and the teams traded leads.
Duke led 57-56 when Williamson flexed his muscles, leaping high to block Hunter’s shot attempt with both hands. At the other end, his drive in the lane for a basket put Duke up 59-56 with 6:06 to play.
With 4:50 left, Williamson took an in-bounds pass from Barrett and slammed home two points for a 61-58 Duke lead.
With 3:09 left, Barrett got into the act with a spinning drive and basket to give Duke a 63-60 lead.
After Guy missed a 3-pointer for Virginia, Barrett drove to score for a 65-60 Duke lead with 2:18 left.
From there, Guy missed a 3-pointer with 1:54 left and Hunter’s driving layup rolled off at 1:11.
Marques Bolden’s two free throws with 1:09 to play put Duke in front 67-60.
Duke led 37-32 at halftime and still maintained a five-point lead three minutes into the second half. Jerome did strong work to erase Virginia’s deficit
Over a stretch of 4:04, he scored nine points to give Virginia an edge in a back-and-forth game,
His layup after a strong drive with 12:03 left gave the Cavaliers a 49-48 lead. It marked the seventh consecutive trip down court by either team where the lead changed hands.
Though Virginia made 57.7 percent of its first-half shots, Duke took a 37-32 lead at halftime
Relying heavily on Barrett and Williamson finding driving lanes to the basket, the Blue Devils hit only 43.8 percent of their shots and were 2 of 10 on 3-pointers.
But Williamson and Barrett each scored 14 points to lead Duke’s offense.
Duke appeared to reliant on 3-pointers early as the Blue Devils attempted six over the game’s first eight minutes. They made just one.
Barrett drilled a 3-pointer with 11:02 left in the half, giving Duke a 20-15 lead. That was the last 3-pointer the Blue Devils made in the half.
Williamson scored Duke’s next seven points, dunking in transition, scoring on a drive and scoring the lane and adding a free throw with 7:33 left in the half for a 27-22 Duke lead.
Barrett’s free throws at 5:33 gave Duke a 29-22 lead, its largest of the first half.
Getting the ball inside itself, Virginia scored on five of its next six possessions. Guy’s layup after Williamson fell down and turned the ball over left Duke with a 33-32 lead.
Duke scored the half’s final four points. Williamson rebounded Jack White’s missed 3-pointer and scored with a minute left in the half.
Reddish’s steal started a fast break where his pass led to a Barrett layin for a 37-32 Duke lead at intermission.