Duke pokes holes in Virginia’s vaunted defense, rolls to 81-71 win

Duke's Zion Williamson goes the basket against Boston College on Feb. 5 2019

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - When LeBron James and Rajon Rondo walked into John Paul Jones Arena in the first half of No. 2 Duke's 81-71 victory at No. 3 Virginia on Saturday night, thousands of fans squealed as they held up their smartphones to capture the moment.

Duke's greatest weakness this season has been outside shooting, but the Blue Devils were on fire in Charlottesville. "We all can do a mixture of everything and it just depends on who gets found, who's open and it's a simple as that".

Way back on November 6, when Duke served notice it was a serious national title contender with a 118-84 demolishing of Kentucky, the Blue Devils hit 12 of 26 3-pointers (46.2 percent).

James had built a relationship with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski while playing with the USA men's national team when Krzyzewski was the head coach.

Duke will need to keep playing at this level to continue its winning streak, which reached seven games with the win over Virginia.

"My players felt it", Krzyzewski said. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome scored 16 points apiece for Virginia, who couldn't avenge their 72-70 loss to the Blue Devils on January 19. After the break, Reddish connected three times from deep as the Blue Devils pushed the margin to 52-41 in just over four minutes.

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With Virginia trying to claw back in the game late in the second half, Williamson erased a wide-open three pointer with a breathtaking recovery block behind the arc. Just take a look at what he did against Virginia on Saturday. You got to read, 'Ok, when is that guy Ok on the ball?' and leave and be there on the catch.

"There's maybe two people in the world that can make those plays and they both were in our gym", Bennett said in an apparent nod to James' visit.

"It was one of my poorer performances in the first 15 minutes of the first half", Guy said.

Duke: Williamson is the player that everyone seems to focus on in pregame warmups because of his physical gifts, but it's Barrett that leads the Blue Devils in scoring (23 points per game to Williamson's 22 entering the game). When Barrett and Reddish shoot as well as they did Saturday, Williamson can be a part-time decoy who still manages to do plenty of damage. "We did a much better job in the gap, and they didn't get as many driving lanes, but when you hit thirteen three's you're going to be hard to beat". Duke's home games in this stretch are back-to-back rivalry match-ups versus NC State and No. 8 North Carolina...

Duke's Most Top-5 Vs. Top-5 GamesSaturday's game marks the Blue Devils' fourth AP top-5 vs. top-5 game this season - the most played by a Duke team before March 1 in history...

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