Blue Devils fall to UVa in ACC final
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Jabari Parker put on another one-man show, throwing down dunks and hitting enough shots to single-handedly keep No. 7 Duke in the game.
But going up against a determined Virginia defense that had stopped him before, it wasn’t enough to give the Blue Devils their 20th ACC tournament title.
The sixth-ranked Cavaliers beat Duke 72-63 in the title game on Sunday after withstanding Parker’s best late charge and clamping down on the Blue Devils down the stretch.
Parker finished with 23 points on 9-of-24 shooting for Duke (26-8), but only made it to the free throw line four times.
Duke as a team was just 7 of 11 from the line while Virginia was 25 of 38.
"Part of his development is, when he makes those moves, is to finish, get fouled, not get fouled," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Jabari played his butt off. He was relentless in trying to get things in.
"We were almost there. We were right there, in spite of not being able to finish," he added.
Duke was making its 31st appearance in the championship game but was denied its ACC-record 20th title.
That went instead to Malcolm Brogdon, who scored 23 points, and tournament MVP Joe Harris, who added 15 and hit a backbreaking 3-pointer with just under 2 minutes remaining for the top-seeded Cavaliers (28-6).
Playing in front of a raucous -- and mostly orange-clad -- Greensboro Coliseum crowd, they shot 45 percent from the field, pestered the Blue Devils into 38 percent shooting and used a late 12-3 run to pull away and claim the second ACC tournament title in school history.
"We were kind of joking around when we came in -- we were asking, ‘Where are all of the Duke fans?"’ Harris said. "All we could see was orange when we were driving over here. ... The city of Charlottesville definitely deserves an ACC tournament title."
Anthony Gill added 12 points and was 10 of 17 from the free throw line for the Cavaliers, who came to Greensboro after winning their first outright ACC regular season title since 1981, and were trying to do something not even Ralph Sampson could do.
It had been a long time -- 38 years -- since Wally Walker led Virginia to its only previous ACC tournament title.
Now that trophy won’t be alone anymore.
"Wally Walker said we want some company with that team in ‘76," coach Tony Bennett said.
With its "pack line" defense clicking and holding Duke 13 points below its scoring average, Virginia was in control for most of the game, yet could never get any separation until the final 2 1/2 minutes.
"We kept talking about it -- don’t get sped up, make them guard you, and make them earn on the other end," Bennett said. "We had to earn this against that kind of team and that kind of program."
Akil Mitchell hit a shot to make it 61-57, then stripped Parker at the other end to set up Harris’ wide-open 3 in transition that extended the lead to seven points and had Duke’s Rodney Hood fuming.
Harris gave Duke a final chance when he rushed up a shot and Quinn Cook countered with a 3 with 1 1/2 minutes left to pull the Blue Devils within four.
Brogdon then drove through the Duke defense for a momentum-shifting layup that made it 66-60 with just over a minute to play and caused Duke assistant Jeff Capel to tellingly slump back on the bench in exasperation.
"I think we kind of rushed. We were just so anxious to get on the offensive end once we tried to get down and get their momentum on (Duke’s) side," Parker said.
Cook missed a short jumper before Brogdon hit six of eight free throws in the final minute to help the Cavaliers pull away.
Hood finished with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting and Amile Jefferson added 11 points for Duke.
This was a one-possession game throughout the second half until Mitchell’s tip-in with 5:10 left pushed Virginia’s lead to 57-53.
Parker missed three shots on Duke’s next possession, then picked up his fourth foul with 3:53 left and Gill hit two free throws to put the Cavaliers up by six.
Virginia was one of the few opponents which found a way to slow Parker, holding him to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting in the regular season meeting -- a four-point Duke win that came down to the final seconds.
With Mitchell keying the defensive effort on him, Parker was just 2 of 10 in the first half.
"He’s special. He’s strong, quick, athletic, can shoot the ball and put it on the floor," Mitchell said. "I just wanted to make sure I stayed down, kept my balance and just tried to stay in front."
Parker got hot midway through the second half and single-handedly kept Duke in the game, reeling off seven straight points for his team in a 90-second span.
He went coast-to-coast and threw down a one-handed dunk on London Perrantes, hit a 3-pointer from the wing to briefly give Duke a one-point lead and added a jumper off a spin move with 8 1/2 minutes remaining.
Mitchell finished with 15 rebounds for Virginia, which led 28-25 at the end of a physical, intense first half notable for its low shooting percentages -- and a technical foul on Krzyzewski that the Hall of Fame coach called "ridiculous" and "shameful."
Official Jamie Luckie hit Coach K with a T with 2:07 left in the half when Krzyzewski, with his back to the court, tossed his dry-erase marker toward his bench while coming out of a timeout.
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