CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A.J. Griffin incurred the ire of coach Mike Krzyzewski when he passed on an open 3-pointer late in the No. 7 Blue Devils’ tight game at Virginia.
“What are you doing? Just shoot. Like, you should shoot all the time, whenever you get it, and you next shot is the first shot” Krzyzewski said he told Griffin, a freshman and one of the top long-distance shooters in the country.
Griffin, who had missed seven of eight shots, got the message. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then scored on a drive, helping Duke hold on for a 65-61 victory Wednesday night.
“We have confidence that his next shot’s going to go in,” Krzyzewski said of Griffin, who has made 50 of 104 3-point tries this season. “Three of his next shots went in in the last four minutes and God Bless.”
Griffin’s first 3 gave the Blue Devils (24-4, 14-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 55-51 lead with 3:39 to play. His next one made it 58-53 with 2:41 left, and his driving basket made it 60-55 with just over two minutes to play. Trevor Keels’ basket with 56 seconds left and and a free throw were just enough to finish it.
Kihei Clark made a career-best six 3-pointers, all in the first half, and scored a career-high 25 points for the Cavaliers (17-11, 11-7). They were trying to sweep the season series after winning 69-68 at Duke on Feb. 7.
“He kept us in it offensively,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said of Clark, whose also had seven assists and six rebounds.
Clark had never made more than four 3-pointers in a game, and made all six in a span of just over 11 minutes, scoring 18 consecutive points for Virginia.
“They were going in so I kept shooting,” Clark said,
Jeremy Roach led the Blue Devils with 15 points, and Griffin and Keels added 13 each. Jayden Gardner had 16, and Reece Beekman 11 for the Cavaliers.
Roach also was assigned to defend Clark after his fast start, and Krzyzewski said “I thought his performance was the differentiator. … His verve on offense really lifted us.”
Duke led 30-25 at halftime and by as many as eight in the second half. The Cavaliers used a 7-0 run to get within 52-51 with five minutes to play, Both teams had empty trips down court before Griffin made his first 3 from the top of the key.
Duke: The Blue Devils were outscored 20-2 off turnovers in their earlier loss to Virginia when they turned the ball over 15 times. They had just eight giveaways this time and were outscored by 9-8 off turnovers. Virginia also outscored the Blue Devils 52-28 in the paint in the first meeting, but were outscored 28-20 in close on their home floor.
Virginia: Coach Tony Bennett paid tribute to Duke’s retiring Mike Krzyzewski before the game, thanking him for all he’s done for the sport and presenting him with a plaque. Krzyzewski also walked across the court to greet longtime Cavaliers coach Terry Holland, who was seated next to the broadcast table.
“Tonight was beautiful. It showed the brotherhood in our league and the respect that programs have for one another and that coaches have for one another. It meant a great deal to me,” Krzyzewski said. “What they gave me weighs about 800 pounds,”
The plaque, Krzyzewski said, “weighs about 800 pounds.”
Duke: At Syracuse on Saturday.
Virginia: Hosts Florida State on Saturday.