Virginia has one of the most suffocating defenses in college basketball.
Apparently someone forgot to tell Jayson Tatum that.
Tatum exploded for 28 points to lead Duke to a 65-55 victory over Virginia in Charlottesville. Tatum scored 21 in the second half in what was otherwise an ugly game for both teams.
On a night where Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen struggled (combining for 5-19 shooting), Tatum was unstoppable. He shot 8-13, including an absurd 6-7 from three. A good amount of those threes were contested shots that just fell in. Kennard did finish with 16, but many were free throws at the end when Virginia attempted to foul.
London Perrantes scored 14 to lead the Cavaliers, with Ty Jerome adding 13 off the bench. But everyone struggled offensively for Virginia, as they shot 21-57 (36.8%) from the field. Their defense was typically excellent, but at the end they did not have anyone big and quick enough to guard Tatum.
Virginia led 25-21 at the half, but Duke scored three quick buckets to open the second half to take a 28-27 lead. Duke did not lose the lead the rest of the game. Virginia kept it close, trailing 48-44 with 3 minutes left. But two Tatum threes, the second a contested one at the end of the shot clock, proved to be the daggers in the game.
The win put Duke in a three way tie for second in the ACC with Florida State and Louisville. They play Wake Forest at home on Saturday, the rematch of an 85-83 thriller the Blue Devils won in January.
The stretch does not get easier for Virginia, as they go on the road to play first place North Carolina on Saturday. Virginia is in legitimate danger of losing three straight for the first time since 2011.