Virginia-Duke Preview

Duke’s dreams of a perfect season have been dashed following a

tough road loss.

A game against a Virginia team that it has regularly frustrated

and is without its best player should help Mike Krzyzewski’s

program bounce back.

Coming off their first defeat in nearly 10 months, the

top-ranked Blue Devils look to win their 14th straight over the

Cavaliers at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.

Duke (15-1, 2-1 ACC) had won 25 consecutive games – which

includes its runs through last season’s ACC and NCAA tournaments –

since a 79-72 loss to Maryland on March 3 heading into Wednesday at

Florida State. The Blue Devils came out flat against the Seminoles,

though, missing their first 10 3-point attempts, and ended up

losing 66-61.

Duke came in with one of the nation’s top offenses, averaging

87.8 points and 49.4 percent shooting, but finished with its lowest

point total and shooting percentage (31.1 percent). Kyle Singler

had 20 points and Nolan Smith added 19, but the rest of the team

combined for 22 points on 7 of 28 shooting.

“We have not been in a game like that (this season). They

knocked us back,” Krzyzewski said. “You just learn from the

experience. We have a long way to go.”

The Blue Devils, who haven’t dropped back-to-back games since

mid-February 2009, should seemingly have better luck against

Virginia (10-6, 1-1) at Cameron, where they’ve won 51 in a row over

unranked opponents.

Duke has outscored the Cavaliers by an average of 18.4 points in

winning the last five meetings since a 68-66 overtime loss at

Virginia on Feb. 1, 2007. The Blue Devils have won 14 of 15 in this

series, and 27 of the last 30.

Duke has also dominated this series in Durham, winning 13

straight since a 91-89 double-overtime loss on Jan. 14, 1995.

These teams met twice last season, including the Blue Devils’

57-46 victory in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. Singler averaged

19.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in those games, while Smith averaged

10.0 points.

That senior duo has been carrying Duke’s offense over the last

seven games, with Smith averaging 24.0 points and Singler 20.9.

Virginia is 1-27 against top-ranked teams with its lone win

coming over North Carolina in 1986, and pulling off this upset

won’t be easy following the loss of its senior leader.

The Cavaliers learned Monday that scoring and rebounding leader

Mike Scott would have a second surgery on his left ankle and miss

the remainder of the season.

The 6-foot-8 Scott, who had sat out the team’s last four games,

was averaging 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds, and became the first

Virginia player since Ralph Sampson in 1983 to reach double figures

in points and rebounds in five straight games.

“In his absence, all of our players will need to continue to

step up and our young frontcourt players will continue to gain

valuable experience,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said.

Virginia’s frontcourt, however, had some trouble in last

Saturday’s 62-56 loss to North Carolina.

Starting forward Will Sherrill managed only two points and one

rebound while starting center Assane Sene had three points and 11

boards. The starting backcourt of KT Harrell, Jontel Evans and

Mustapha Farrakhan all scored at least 11 points

It was the third loss in five games for Virginia, which has

played eight straight at home since beating Virginia Tech in its

ACC opener Dec. 5.