Trio of freshmen leads Blue Devils past Cavaliers
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — RJ Barrett got it started, Zion Williamson filled in some gaps and Cam Reddish added a late flurry.
In No. 2 Duke’s latest installment of Freshmen Gone Wild, all three — and point guard Tre Jones — had starring roles Saturday night as the Blue Devils used an early barrage of 3-pointers to stun No. 3 Virginia, and then held off the Cavaliers, 81-71, to sweep the season series.
“That really sets the tone for us and we played defense today as well,” Barrett said of the fast start that saw him make five 3-pointers before the game was 12 minutes old, helping Duke quiet a sold-out John Paul Jones Arena with the host Cavaliers already trailing 29-15.
“We were just in our zone and it’s great to see when our team is like that,” Barrett said.
He finished with 26 points, Williamson had 18 and Reddish had 17, including three 3-pointers early in the second half.
“It’s any given night for all of us,” Reddish said after finishing 5 of 8 from beyond the arc, with three coming in a span of less than three minutes. “We all can do a mixture of everything and it just depends on who gets found, who’s open and it’s a simple as that.”
Duke finished 13 for 21 from 3-point range after making just 2 of 14 in a 72-70 victory against Virginia on Jan. 19.
“It’s a little bit deflating when they’re banging 3s and you’re trying to keep them out of the lane,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.
Bennett thought his team might have over-adjusted by focusing too much on trying to close off the inside, but his counterpart, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, thought it was at least as much a case of his own players recognizing the strategy change.
“My players felt it,” Krzyzewski said. “That little bit of room — they took advantage of it without any kind of coaching.”
The Blue Devils (21-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) ended Virginia’s 13-game home winning streak and won their third straight in Charlottesville. They now share first place with North Carolina and have two games left with the Tar Heels.