Duke hangs on, but it isn't pretty
No. 8 Duke wouldn't let No. 16 Virginia hit many shots in the second half, especially either of the two that would have forced overtime.
Mason Plumlee scored 12 points and the Blue Devils held on to beat the Cavaliers 61-58 on Thursday night, snapping their 12-game winning streak.
Austin Rivers and Seth Curry added 11 points apiece for the Blue Devils (14-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who kept one of Virginia's top outside threats scoreless and held the Cavaliers to 29 percent shooting in the second half, including 0 for 11 from three-point range.
Despite an off night from deep, Duke shot 52 percent against one of the league's stingiest defenses, put together a game-changing run shortly after halftime, then held off Virginia's late push to claim its second straight win.
''We played defense, too,'' coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ''They played it well, and I thought we played it well tonight.''
Mike Scott scored 23 points for the Cavaliers (14-2, 1-1). They pulled within three on Akil Mitchell's stickback dunk with 47.6 seconds left, then forced a stop to get the ball back with about 13 seconds left.
Scott missed a three-pointer from the corner and Jontel Evans missed a 3 from the wing as time expired.
''Our guys kept their composure,'' Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. ''You can't complain about getting two clean looks at the rim to send it to extended time.''
Andre Dawkins finished with 10 points while playing what Krzyzewski called ''by far the best defensive game'' of his career for the Blue Devils, who were held 21 points below their average of 82 and were just 5 of 20 from three-point range.
They gave the Cavaliers a prime chance to force overtime before those misses sealed Duke's 19th straight ACC win at home, their 44th in a row at Cameron Indoor Stadium and their 15th consecutive victory there against the Cavaliers. Virginia hasn't won at Duke since 1995, when Krzyzewski wasn't around due to back surgery and exhaustion.
''To beat Duke here, you've got to be hitting on most cylinders, and we were probably not quite there,'' Bennett said. ''We needed to be an eight-cylinder and we were maybe a five-cylinder.''
Joe Harris added 14 points but Sammy Zeglinski, who averages 9.9 points, was scoreless on 0 for 8 shooting for Virginia, which debuted its highest ranking since climbing to No. 15 in 2002 and had a chance to force overtime despite managing just one field goal in a 7 1/2 minute span early in the second half.
The Cavaliers entered giving up an ACC-best average of 50.5 points, and their defense held the Blue Devils in check for a while.
But immediately after the break, it was Duke's turn to dictate tempo. Rivers started the 23-10 spurt that put Duke in charge for the first time, following up Ryan Kelly's missed jumper with a layup that cut Duke's deficit to 34-32 with just under 19 minutes left.
''We got some defense and were able to run out,'' Curry said. ''Their defense is predicated on not giving up offensive rebounds and getting back in transition. We were able to get some rebounds and hit some shots ... (and) were able to get good looks at the basket.''
Nobody more than Plumlee, who scored seven points during the run — including a left-handed hook shot that gave the Blue Devils their first lead since midway through the first half and a three-point play that capped it and made it 53-42 with 9:37 left.
''That first 10 minutes of the second half wasn't really our defense,'' Scott said. ''They got into the paint, scored at will. It took everything for us to come back, and it shouldn't be like that.''
Meanwhile, during that stretch, the Cavaliers simply went cold.
After Scott hit a jumper with 19:15 left, Virginia hit only one of its next nine attempts before Harris' basket with 11:46 remaining. That was before Mitchell personified the Cavaliers' early second half shooting struggles when he soared for a dunk of Harris' missed three — and instead slammed the ball hard off the back iron.
By contrast, Virginia was in charge at both ends for much of the first half, with Scott scoring 16 points before the break.
''Basically, he was responsible for 60 percent of their offense in the first half,'' Krzyzewski said. ''When a man does that in this type of game, he's a hell of a player.''
The Cavaliers held Duke to one field goal during a stretch of more than nine minutes midway through, and the Blue Devils missed nine of their first 11 attempts from long range. Duke's 28 points matched a season low for the first half set against Ohio State.