Barrett helps Duke top Virginia in ACC clash

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RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson lead Duke past Virginia | College Basketball Highlights

Duke saved its best 3-point shooting night of the season for one of is biggest games on Saturday night.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - When LeBron James and Rajon Rondo walked into John Paul Jones Arena in the first half of No. 2 Duke's 81-71 victory at No. 3 Virginia on Saturday night, thousands of fans squealed as they held up their smartphones to capture the moment.

"It's the best we've shot from the three-point, and obviously, it's a huge difference", Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Way back on November 6, when Duke served notice it was a serious national title contender with a 118-84 demolishing of Kentucky, the Blue Devils hit 12 of 26 3-pointers (46.2 percent).

"We plugged the gaps and we probably were in there a little long and they hit deep shots", Bennett said.

Duke shot 57.8 percent overall. Ty Jerome has been ailing as of late, which puts the Cavaliers in a tough spot without one of their veteran leaders.

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RJ Barrett's six 3-pointers and five more from Reddish on Saturday night at Virginia helped erase that game plan.

The Blue Devils have won six straight games following an 80-55 win over Boston College. The 7-foot-1 redshirt sophomore made a three-pointer and delivered a pass into a tight window to Braxton Key for a layup that trimmed the deficit to 54-49 with 12:19 to play. He was fouled on a drive with 11:21 and hit two free throws for a 59-49 Duke lead.

Virginia, on the other hand, has only suffered one loss (Duke) since their opening-round loss in last year's NCAA tournament, when they became the first-ever No. 1 team to lose to a 16 seed in men's basketball history.

The last nine games in the Duke-Virginia series have been decided by a total of 42 points (4.7 points per game).

"They're very talented players, love watching them", Duke center Marques Bolden said. They were quicker to the ball.

But Zion Williamson, the projected No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft, claimed he didn't notice the buzz or the NBA All-Star.

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Although the Cavaliers pulled within five on two occasions, Duke never stopped answering with 3-point daggers. He also leads the ACC in assists (5.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.8). Duke's 5-1 record versus top 15 teams leads the nation...

But if the Blue Devils' 3-point shooting stroke is true, everyone could simply be playing for second place.

Despite Duke's blistering start, Virginia was within 41-37 early in the second half.

After making just four of their first 10 field goal attempts, the Cavaliers finished the first half 15 of 32 (46.9 percent).

The first half also included a head-to-head collision between De'Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite that sent Diakite, a starting forward, tumbling to the court along the baseline by the Duke bench.

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