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Inside the Numbers: Duke zone, second-chance points, intangible key win over UVA

uva dukeA Zion Williamson layup with 9:34 to go gave Duke a 54-53 lead on UVA, and then Mike Krzyzewski signaled the defensive look to his team on its way back down the court: zone.

You knew it was coming, with freshman point guard Tre Jones out with a shoulder injury, which forced Coach K to go basically with a five-man rotation, with Javin DeLaurier and Alex O’Connell giving him a combined 12 minutes, just three, all from DeLaurier, in the second half.

At that point, Virginia was shooting 63.1 percent from the field, including an eye-popping 19-of-23 in the paint.

It was a layup drill for the ‘Hoos, who hit nine of their first 12 from the floor in the second half, all nine makes coming in the paint.

Kyle Guy missed a three-point jumper on UVA’s first possession against the zone, then had another missed three on the next ‘Hoos possession.

Duke didn’t stay in the zone the entirety of the rest of the way, but the 2-3 was the primary defense down the stretch, and the effect was what Krzyzyewski wanted.

Virginia went 4-of-15 from the floor in the final 9:34 in a narrow 72-70 loss.

In a matchup of two teams that are basically mirror images, it didn’t take much.

The one-point lead became a two-point win with UVA missing 11 of its last 15, and Duke making six of its last seven, all in that final 9:34.

Everything about this one played to the way UVA coach Tony Bennett prefers to play things out.

The tempo was measured: 62 possessions.

Duke players not named Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish combined to score six points on 2-of-4 shooting.

Both of the makes were dunks by Jack White.

The Big Three did their damage: Barrett going off for 30, Williamson for 27.

Actually, Reddish was held pretty much in check, scoring nine on 3-of-12 shooting, with four turnovers.

Where this one was lost: Duke had a 9-5 edge in points off turnovers and a 13-8 edge in second-chance points.

In a two-point loss, then, UVA was outscored 22-13 on turnovers and stickbacks.

Yeah, ouch.

And then, the zone. Krzyzewski was able to go zone because Virginia wasn’t on its game from three-point range.

A 40.9 percent team from three coming in, the ‘Hoos were just 3-of-17 on Saturday, and it wasn’t because Duke was doing a great job closing out.

UVA was 1-of-7 from behind the arc in the final 9:34, and you’re not going to get as good a look as Guy (1-of-5 down the stretch), Braxton Key and De’Andre Hunter were getting.

One of those shots falls, one falls before Krzyzewski goes zone, makes him give that idea a second thought …

One, maybe two more boxouts, on a night when Duke only had a modest 32-30 edge overall in rebounding …

It was thatclose.

Credit to Duke. UVA didn’t lose this game; Duke won this game.

Column by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press