The Duke basketball team put its winning gene on display against Virginia.
There are multiple games every season which show the true colors of a team, and Wednesday night was another one of those games for the Duke basketball program.
The No. 7 Blue Devils (24-4, 14-3 ACC) were on the road to face the Virginia Cavaliers (17-11, 11-7 ACC), a team that stunned Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium weeks earlier, and its point guard had a night he will never forget.
Kihei Clark is an extremely undersized guard who is not known for his shooting abilities. So he naturally hit six 3-pointers in the first half to post 18 points for the ‘Hoos as no other player had more than three points.
But Duke showed its poise quickly behind a balanced attack led by Jeremy Roach‘s seven points.
Roach led the way for the Blue Devils with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. The Virginia natives, Roach and Trevor Keels, were the most consistent players in the 65-61 victory as Duke had trouble again with the pack-line defense of the Cavaliers.
Keels posted 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including his steal and layup with 54.3 seconds remaining to push the Duke lead to five, 62-57.
However, it was the freshman AJ Griffin, who struggled mightily in the first half, that rose to the occasion and hit two clutch 3-pointers to tilt the game in the favor of the Blue Devils with 3:39 and 2:40 left in the game, respectively.
The two shots were part of the seven straight points the freshman scored late in the second half after only going 1-for-7 in the first half.
Duke basketball star freshman struggles mightily
Something has not felt right with Paolo Banchero in recent weeks, and the Virginia defense stifled him once again.
After the Cavaliers held the star freshman to nine points in their first meeting, his lowest output of the season, Banchero only mustered eight points in his second matchup with the Cavaliers.
The projected Top-3 pick in the NBA Draft was 2-of-13 from the floor, 0-of-7 in the second half.
Duke needs to figure out how to get its star playing like a National Player of the Year candidate as March quickly approaches.
The Blue Devils make the trip to New York this weekend to face Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange (15-13, 9-8 ACC) on Saturday night (6:00 p.m., ESPN).