CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — RJ Barrett scored 26 points, Zion Williamson had 18 and No. 2 Duke used an early barrage of 3-pointers to stun No. 3 Virginia and then held off the Cavaliers, 81-71, on Saturday night.
Barrett hit his first five tries from 3-point range for the Blue Devils (21-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). His fifth one gave them a 29-15 lead after less than 12 minutes of play. Cam Reddish took over after that, hitting 5 of his first 6, the last three early in the second half as the Blue Devils rebuilt their lead to 52-41. He finished with 17 points.
Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome each scored 16 to lead Virginia (20-2, 8-2), which had a 13-game home winning streak snapped. The Cavaliers lost to the Blue Devils at John Paul Jones Arena for the third consecutive time.
The game drew a sellout crowd, most hoping Virginia could avenge a 72-70 loss at Duke on Jan. 19, but it was the Blue Devils who put on a show in front of LeBron James and past stars from both schools.
Duke scored the first eight points on a pair of 3-pointers by Barrett sandwiching a steal and dunk by Williamson. The lead was 31-17 before two 3-pointers by Guy, one by Jerome and another by Kihei Clark, which fueled an 18-8 run for Virginia that closed the gap to 39-35 at the half.
After a break, it was Reddish who took over from long range, connecting three times as the Blue Devils pushed the margin to 52-41 in just over four minutes.
Virginia kept trying to close the gap, and got within 66-61 on De’Andre Hunter’s 3-pointer with 5:25 left, but Marques Bolden scored in close for the Blue Devils, Williamson scored on a stickback and Tre Jones hit a pullup in the lane, boosting the margin back to 72-61.
Duke: Williamson is the player that everyone seems to focus on in pregame warmups because of his physical gifts, but it’s Barrett that leads the Blue Devils in scoring (23 points per game to Williamson’s 22 entering the game). When Barrett and Reddish shoot as well as they did Saturday, Williamson can be a part-time decoy who still manages to do plenty of damage.
Virginia: The Cavaliers appeared shocked by the first 12 minutes, during which the Blue Devils were 7 of 8 on 3-pointers and 10 of 14 overall in taking a 29-15 lead. They gathered themselves and had several runs that energized the crowd, but a team that’s 20-0 against everyone else never could get over the hump against arguably the country’s most talented squad.
Duke: The Blue Devils remain on the road, playing at No. 16 Louisville on Tuesday night.
Virginia: The Cavaliers head to Chapel Hill to play No. 8 North Carolina on Monday night.