Duke basketball has star born in biggest win of year against No. 7 Virginia

Duke basketball forward Jaemyn Brakefield (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Jaemyn Brakefield (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball picked up its signature victory of the season against No. 7 Virginia. 

The resume of the Duke basketball program no longer is vacant of a signature victory.

In what felt like a heavyweight fight on Saturday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils (10-8, 8-6 ACC) defeated their first AP Top-25 opponent of the season in the No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers (15-5, 11-3 ACC).

Neither team held a lead more than six points as Duke took a 39-36 lead into halftime, and the defense tightened in the second half from both sides.

The Blue Devils slapped the floor late in the second half, for the first time this season, and Virginia didn’t score again.

Freshman Jaemyn Brakefield helped carry Duke across the finish line for the 66-65 victory.

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Brakefield hit a driving layup while absorbing contact with 1:59 to play in the second half, which would be the last points scored in the ACC battle.

Virginia’s last field goal came with 3:52 to play as senior center Jay Huff dunked an airball from Kihei Clark on the final possession but only as time had well expired after the ball was put in the rim.

However, Huff was a monster in the paint for the Cavaliers with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it was Duke sophomore Matthew Hurt who was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points.

Hurt continued his scorching stretch on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range.

Brakefield ended with 11 points, and freshman point guard Jeremy Roach ended the night with 12 points for the Blue Devils.

Duke basketball still with work to be done for NCAA Tournament

The victory was a massive step in the right direction for the Blue Devils to potentially earn an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, but there is still work to be done.

Duke is firmly back on the bubble for March Madness, but it has four games left against teams that are also not yet safely in the field: Syracuse, Louisville, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina.

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Short turnarounds are always a concern for teams coming off of big wins, and that is what Duke will face on Monday night at home against the Orange.

Tipoff is at 7:00pm EST (ESPN) between the Blue Devils and Orange inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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