During the last five seasons, a traditional ACC clash has turned into a rivalry as Virginia has grown into one of the nation’s elite programs. Although Duke has met the Cavaliers on just six occasions in that stretch—this will be the first time since 2010-11 that the teams play twice in the regular season—there have been plenty of thrilling matchups.
With the Blue Devils set to host the next edition of the budding rivalry Saturday evening, The Chronicle looks back at the best games in recent series history.
Less than a year ago, roles were nearly reversed when these teams met up at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Virginia held the No. 2 spot in the AP poll with just one loss in its first 20 games. But the opportunity was ripe for the Blue Devils to grab a win on their home floor.
Duke trailed 60-58 after a Marvin Bagley III dunk with 1:37 to play, and Coach K called timeout to set up the Blue Devils’ defense. It worked to a charm, forcing a missed 3-pointer by Kyle Guy, but Trevon Duval attempted a full-court pass to Wendell Carter Jr. that was picked off by Cavalier guard Ty Jerome.
The next trip down, Jerome splashed a dagger trey to seal the win after a ball-fake sent Duval the other way for just a second.
If there ever was a question whether the Cavaliers were for real, Tony Bennett’s team answered it in resounding fashion during the 2014 ACC tournament. After holding Florida State and Pittsburgh to 99 combined points during its first two games, Virginia met up with Duke for the league title—the Blue Devils had eked out a win in Durham earlier that year.
The Cavalier defense was stifling, as usual, as Duke managed only 25 points before halftime. It didn’t help either that Coach K picked up a questionable technical foul after throwing his dry-erase marker. But Virginia kept on the gas after halftime, and despite eight ties and seven lead changes, the Cavaliers got a big-time 3-pointer from Joe Harris in the last two minutes to go up by seven and finish their magical run.
In a game where the Cavaliers took an early 11-point advantage, neither team truly seemed to gain much traction. Virginia led by three at the half before the Blue Devils took the lead after the break, going up by seven with just about 12 minutes to go.
It all set the stage for an epic finish, as told best by the sweet voice of Mr. Dick Vitale.
The Blue Devils’ 2014-15 campaign was full of moments, capped when Duke cut down the nets in Indianapolis that April. Yet, no game might have been more important in that national championship run than their six-point victory at John Paul Jones Arena, the catalyst for the Blue Devils winning 18 of their last 19 contests.
Trailing 63-58 with less than three minutes to go after a Cavalier alley-oop courtesy of Justin Anderson, Duke began an 11-0, game-ending run. With the Blue Devils down just a pair, Tyus Jones found Justise Winslow under the basket with a gorgeous jump-pass to tie things at 63 apiece.
Then, Jahlil Okafor kicked one out from the low block to Quinn Cook, who buried a go-ahead triple with 1:16 to play, giving Duke the lead for good. But Virginia had a chance to send things to overtime with a stop and score. Jones, however, had other plans—the freshman found just enough space to shoot over London Perrantes with 9.9 ticks remaining, sinking a 3-pointer that closed out any chances of a last-gasp comeback by the hosts.