Duke Drops Virginia

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Sylven Landesberg

It took less than 20 seconds for Duke to score its first basket. It took less than 9 minutes to force 10 turnovers en route to a double-digit lead. It took less than a half to build the margin to 20 points. In other words, the nation’s top ranked team wasted little time in dismantling a struggling Virginia team as expected. In the end, the Blue Devils handed the Cavaliers a 79-54 loss, UVa’s fifth straight defeat and the sixth loss in seven 2009 games.

Virginia coach Dave Leitao said his team did not translate its practice preparation into game-time performance.

“Obviously, they got us back on our heels. But I thought more than anything, and I talked about it the first three television timeouts in the first half, that what we did over the last few days in practice, we were not doing at all in the game,” Leitao told the Virginia Sports Network. “I know they had a lot to do with it.”

Turnovers were clearly a significant part of UVa’s first half troubles. As mentioned above, the Hoos had reached double figures in turnovers in less than 10 minutes as Duke’s pressure defense forced multiple miscues. In the end, Virginia produced a season-high 23 turnovers, including 17 in the first half.

The offensive issues helped lead to a heap of Blue Devil points as the hosts scored frequently first-half points off of turnovers to eventually lead 43-31 at intermission. Duke finished with 27 points off of turnovers, a category where UVa produced none. The 22-point deficit was the largest of the season for the Cavs.

“When we get a little bit unsure – there’s an old adage that slow feet come from a cluttered mind. They’re thinking about too many things and they’re not just playing the game,” Leitao said. “If you’re not playing from A to B, point to point, passing and catching and cutting, then you can force yourself into those turnovers. I think [Duke] pressured us, denied us, and caused some turnovers but I think a lot of them were our own doing. That’s obviously disturbing.”

“Virginia is dangerous because they push it, and if they get open shots they’re going to take them. They put guys out there, especially when [Jamil] Tucker is at the four, they can have four guys who can hit threes,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We just felt it was a dangerous game for us if we didn’t attack and stay in passing lanes. We did that, got some buckets off our defense.”

While the expected outcome materialized – UVa hasn’t won in Durham since 1995 – another seemingly inevitable trend continued for Virginia as well. Freshman standout Sylven Landesberg once again reached the 20-point plateau as he scored 20. Landesberg has poured in 20 or more points 10 times, eclipsing the previous mark for a Cavalier freshman. Ralph Sampson had 9 in 1979-80. Landesberg has scored in double figures 13 times in 17 games.

The New York native adjusted his game after Duke cut off most of the driving lanes and drew a pair of early offensive foul calls against him. Landesberg scored many of his 20 points with pull-up jumpers. His final line included 8-of-10 shooting, including his only attempted 3-pointer, and just those two early fouls.

“He’s a really good player – he’s an attacking player, puts you in a position where you can foul him. And we did for those two three-point plays,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s taller than I thought. For a wing player who can put the ball on the floor, that means he can shoot over people. It’s not like a 6-3 guy who can drive, he has good length, and has an instinctive ability to get closer. He’s a good player, and puts defenses in help-and-recover situations if you’re not careful.”

The only other Cavalier to reach double figures in scoring was sophomore Mike Scott, who had 10. He bounced back from a single-digit points night against Florida State with his 11th double-figure effort this season; he has scored at least 10 points eight times in the last nine games.


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