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Duke vs Virginia: They are who we Thought they Were

I know he gets a lot of crap for the histrionics (and he should). Can we start calling him “The Assasin of 1,000 Faces”?There weren’t a lot of fireworks. It wasn’t particularly pretty. As Bart and I like to say: This game was a real Barn Builder. (for later use when one has a Barn Burner) But the Devils got the W. It seems that Duke has really found its identity at this point. They are not an offensive juggernaut who is going to out-score you. (Though I thought Bonner made a good point early in the broadcast yesterday by saying that Duke does ‘put pressure on you’ offensively because of they can score in spurts with their outside weapons.) They are instead a very, very good defensive team. On their current eight game win streak they have held opponents under 59 points on average - with only Miami getting over 70. Five of the last six games they have held teams under 57 points. And sadly for UVa with Landesberg out with an injury, their offense had absolutely no punch.

In general I thought Virginia played very good pressure defence - often they were able to make Duke uncomfortable with very good ball pressure. They also totally took away the recent string of Duke dominance on the offensive glass, limiting them to only two boards when Duke had been averaging 17 over the last 5 games. Now partly that was mitigated by the Devils not doing their normal road ‘masonry’; ie laying a lot of bricks. They actually shot a healthy 48% from the floor during a road game (FINALLY!). And right on cue from my most recent article about him, Zoubek was plagued with foul trouble and was not able to continue his recent havoc wreaking. The lone bright spot for the Cavaliers was Jerome Meyinsse with 21 of their 49 points. He more than tripled his scoring average on the season and had his way against taller Duke players. He drew a lot of fouls and made some tough buckets.

But story of the game was the Kyle Singler show in the first half and the Jon Scheyer show in the second. Singler paced Duke with 15 in the first stanza - moving very well without the ball to get open or make cuts to the basket to relieve ball pressure. He showed his usual indomitable spirit that seems to relish contact against bigger players and likes to shoot over/through the smaller ones. Then Jon picked up the slack in the second half. He showed impressive intensity on several drives while taking on the smaller UVa guards. Twice he was blatantly victimized by the officials on non-calls with obvious contact. One shot he missed and the other he made. He was quite clearly steamed about it, but like any great player he was able to harness that energy into making good plays and making big shots. He hit 2 early threes that pushed the lead back to 20, effectively ending the game with 16 minutes on the clock. He also played his normal cagey D, finishing with 5 steals.

So now comes the big showdown in College Park to likely decide the ACC regular season title. (Though contrary to UNC’s way of thinking that is NOT the ACC championship. That comes from the tourney kiddos) Possibly also on the line will be ACC Player of the Year honors - with Scheyer and Vasquez the consensus front runners. More on that in the next day or so.

  • Nice to see Dawkins get solid minutes and finally hit a three-pointer. Maybe the lid will finally come off for him
  • Mason had a couple of nice pull-up drives, but he is going to have to develop some other offensive move besides his lil’ hard-right-hand-dribble-into-the-lane-and-pull-up 7 footer. That seems to be his only move. Coaching against him I would absolutely dare him to go left.