Virginia did all they could to hang around with Duke for 40 minutes during Monday night’s ACC contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but the Cavaliers could never quite get over the hump as the Blue Devils held on for the 69-65 win.
Malcolm Brogdon knocked in a go-ahead free throw with 37 seconds left to give Virginia (12-5, 3-1) its first lead of the game at 65-64, but the Cavaliers couldn’t hold on as No. 23 Duke (13-4, 2-2) rallied with five straight points to end the game.
Although Virginia made a valiant effort to come back and take the lead against Duke, their offensive identity is still a big question going forward.
Just who is the go-to guy on this Cavalier team?
Joe Harris (15 points) would appear to be that guy on paper as the most experienced Cavalier that doubles as their leading scorer, but he’s only averaging 10.7 points per game, and against Duke, it was Brogdon who made plays down the stretch.
Brogdon (17 points) was confident attacking Duke off the bounce at the end of the game and because he shoots 89 percent from the free throw line, it’s nearly an automatic two points if he draws a foul and gets to the line.
But even with Harris and Brogdon as a one-two punch, the Cavaliers need a third guy to get buckets for them. They’re the only two guys on the team averaging double-figures and they’re both barely over 10 points a game each.
Since it isn’t fair for Virginia to rely on Justin Anderson, Mike Tobey or Akil Mitchell to consistently score right now, they need point guard London Perrantes to be more of an offensive threat as a scorer.
This isn’t a knock on the freshman floor leader — who has done a great job managing the offense — but Perrantes is such a lack of a scoring threat that he’s starting to hurt the Cavalier offense as teams stay home on the rest of the offense when Perrantes attacks off the bounce. Credit Duke’s defense in-part — which Jay Bilas cited as their best defensive effort since the win over Michigan — but Virginia also only had six assists and shot 38 percent from the field in the loss on Monday.
In order from the Cavaliers to beat top teams, they just need a little bit more on offense from either a consistent third scoring option or for Perrantes to step up and make everyone else better by putting more offensive pressure on the defense as a scorer.