(left) and Joe Harris
had plenty to celebrate in Virginia's impressive win over Duke. (Tyler Lecka/Getty Images)
Virginia 72, Duke 63: If the ACC is considering playing its tournament in Brooklyn, that’s all well and good. It's good to try new things. But the league will be hard pressed to recreate the same sort of atmosphere that was prevalent in Greensboro during Sunday’s ACC championship between Duke and Virginia. Both teams were well represented by their respective fan bases, and there was an almost equal split of Blue Devils and Cavaliers faithful, who were loud throughout. That’s nothing against New York; it’s just that the state of North Carolina has history on its side.
Virginia captured its first ACC tournament title since 1976, as Joe Harris out-battled Duke freshman Jabari Parker, and the Cavs used a strong free throw differential and strong defense to pull out the win. Parker might deservedly be the number one draft pick in this year’s NBA Draft, but on Sunday it was Harris who made the plays to keep UVA in the running for a No. 1 seed depending on the results of the Big Ten championship.
Harris finished with 15 points, 13 in the second half, on 5-of-11 shooting, including a critical three-pointer to give Virginia a 64-57 lead with two minutes to play. Parker (23 points, eight rebounds) was equally masterful in the second half, hitting threes and finishing on his drives, including this coast-to-coast dunk off a steal.
Both Harris (1-of-4) and Parker (2-of-10) struggled in the first half. Parker seemed to have trouble with Virginia’s pack-line defense, which caused Duke all kinds of problems throughout. Virginia jumped out to an early lead, but eventually the Blue Devils closed the gap in the first half, trailing 28-25. Before the break, Coach K hurled a pen into the ground near his bench in frustration and was given a technical foul.
Virginia focused on getting inside, and that showed in the 38-13 free throw differential. Duke had a number of players in foul trouble, including Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson, Tyler Thornton and Parker. Duke couldn’t be as aggressive as it wanted to be defensively, especially in the second half, which allowed Virginia some breathing room on its drives and a more effective inside-out game down the stretch.
had 23 points for the Cavaliers, and Akil Mitchell
added seven points and 15 rebounds.