Virginia rallies, falls to No. 23 Duke, 69-65
DURHAM, N.C. (AP)
Virginia erased a late 11-point deficit before losing to the 23rd-ranked Blue Devils 69-65 on Monday night on Rasheed Sulaimon's go-ahead 3-pointer with 18.8 seconds left.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 17 points and Joe Harris added 15 for the Cavaliers (12-5, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who erased that deficit by scoring 11 consecutive points in the final 3 1/2 minutes.
Virginia took its first lead on Brogdon's free throws with 36.5 seconds remaining that made it 65-64.
''To show that kind of heart and to climb back in and have a one-point lead was, I told the guys, `Don't hang your head about that,''' coach Tony Bennett said. ''That could have gotten away, and they scrapped and fought their way back.''
On Duke's next trip down court, forward Amile Jefferson grabbed Rodney Hood's air ball and kicked it out to Sulaimon who was waiting alone in the left corner.
His 3-pointer bounced high off the rim and dropped through to put Duke up 67-65.
Akil Mitchell threw the ball away while trying to get it to Harris, but Jefferson gave it right back to Virginia.
''It's the action we wanted. We just didn't execute the pass,'' Bennett said. ''It's a 2-point game. I thought, `OK, we're going to get one here.' But (Jefferson) certainly had eyes on that, and it wasn't meant to be on that one.''
Harris then missed a layup with about 10 seconds left and Jefferson, a 41 percent free throw shooter entering the game, iced it with two free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining.
''It was just chaotic, but those are winning plays,'' Jefferson said, ''and today, we made those plays.''
Sulaimon finished with a season-high 21 points, including four 3s - and Hood added 14 for the Blue Devils (13-4, 2-2).
Debuting their lowest ranking since the last time they fell out of the AP Top 25 in February 2007, they let that big lead slip away before finding a way to avoid a third loss in four games.
''This has to be the game where we look back (and say) that game versus Virginia is where our guys bonded together and became a real Duke team,'' Jefferson said.
Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said Jefferson ''willed us to win. That was one of the great sequences that I've seen, and the basketball gods are good to somebody who does that.''
Jefferson finished with 10 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for Duke, which denied Virginia both its first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium and first 4-0 start to ACC play since 1995.
For much of this one, the Blue Devils didn't look like the team that had gone from preseason ACC favorite to question mark while dropping out of the top 10 to its lowest ranking in seven years.
Coming off a 10-day stretch in which it dropped road games at Notre Dame and Clemson, Duke played tougher-than-usual defense and kept Virginia at bay throughout.
But its 26th straight win at Cameron didn't come without some late-arriving tension: After Quinn Cook's layup with 4 1/2 minutes remaining, Duke didn't hit another field goal until Sulaimon's timely 3.
Cook's free throw with 3:45 left gave the Blue Devils a 63-52 lead.
Virginia - which was at or near 50 percent shooting in its last two games, including a 31-point rout of North Carolina State two nights earlier - struggled to hit anything early against a once-wobbly Duke defense while three times falling behind by 13 points.
They held the Blue Devils well below their ACC-leading average of 82.7 points per game and tightened things up by shooting 43.8 percent in the second half.
Justin Anderson reeled off six consecutive points to start their late rally. Harris added a layup with about 2 minutes left and Brogdon followed that with a three-point play with 1:25 left that produced the first tie since the opening tip.
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