CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – No. 7 Duke had a bad week.
And Saturday night, it got worse.
The seventh-ranked Blue Devils lost their third game in 10 days on Saturday, this time crumbling towards the end of the second half to lose to Virginia, 52-50. They have now lost three of their last four games, monitoring their chances of being ranked first in the NCAA tournament – and now, perhaps even second – to evaporate along the way.
The Blue Devils have, at various times throughout the season, played to their reputation as one of the best college basketball programs in the country. they have overturned then-No. 3 Kansas and then-No. 8 State of Florida. They smoked the enemies of the Notre Dame and Miami conference. Their new crop of five-star freshmen has played with confidence and balance beyond their years.
However, they also sometimes seemed completely and completely lost.
And the most recent week is proof of that.
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Only 10 days ago, the Blue Devils were routed by their local rival, North Carolina State, 88-66 – a shocking defeat against a team they have consistently defeated in recent years. Then on Tuesday, they lost in double overtime to Wake Forest.
And then there was Saturday.
Against a Virginia team that has struggled to generate offense all season after losing several key pieces from last year’s national championship team – including Kyle Guy, De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome – Duke could never back away, taking the lead but quickly allowing the Cavaliers to grab it right away.
Vernon Carey Jr. finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in Duke’s loss (23-6). He made a mistake inside the last minute, after a possible lay-up was blocked by Jay Huff.
Virginia (21-7) has now won six in a row and nine out of ten in total.
Duke, meanwhile, suffered as many losses in the last 10 days of the season (three) as in the first 106.
Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.