Minus Jones, No. 1 Duke aims to hold off No. 4 Virginia
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Duke holds the No. 1 ranking in the country -- at least for a few more days in the Associated Press listing -- but the Blue Devils are in need of regrouping.
Undefeated and No. 4 Virginia is next on the schedule, arriving for a Saturday night showdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Not only is Duke (14-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) trying to recover from the overtime loss to Syracuse, but the Blue Devils also are trying to see how all the pieces fit after losing point guard Tre Jones to a separated shoulder.
Jones has directed the offense, and he has been pointed to by coach Mike Krzyzewski as the defensive catalyst.
"He'll be out for a while, I think," Krzyzewski said. He added to The Athletic on Thursday that Jones likely will be sidelined less than a month.
Jones' injury occurred in the opening six minutes on Monday against the Orange. With the Blue Devils already without guard Cam Reddish for that game because of illness, Jones' absence created depth issues for the team.
The good news for Duke is that Reddish has returned to practice. Yet with Jones potentially missing multiple games, adjustments must be made.
"There are bumps in the road along the way for a lot of people," Krzyzewski said. "We'll figure out ways of handling it."
Virginia (16-0, 4-0) is one of two remaining undefeated teams in the nation, joining No. 2 Michigan with that distinction.
Because the Cavaliers are rated No. 1 in the coaches' poll, this marks just the fourth No. 1 vs. No. 1 meeting in college basketball history.
The Blue Devils are 211-32 while holding the No. 1 ranking under Krzyzewski.
A night after Duke's loss, Virginia drilled No. 9 Virginia Tech 81-59, so the Cavaliers carry considerable momentum as they show up trying to make another early statement in a bid to repeat as ACC champions.
"Winning there last year, we understand how crazy Cameron is," Virginia guard Ty Jerome said. "We understand how loud they get when they go on runs. We know how talented (Duke) is."
Blue Devils sophomore guard Alex O'Connell played a larger role with Jones out. He is one of several players who logged extra playing time.
"When stuff like that happens, you've got to make sure that you're ready to make an impact," O'Connell said.
Especially with Reddish back, the Blue Devils are still stocked with firepower. Freshmen RJ Barrett (23.4 points per game) and Zion Williamson (21.2) are the two leading scorers in the ACC. Williamson is coming off a 35-point effort that set a Duke freshman record.
In the outing before falling to Syracuse, Duke played the entire second half without Williamson at Florida State because he sustained an eye injury. So with evolving lineup combinations, the Blue Devils are learning how to deal with such situations.
"Just always be prepared for anything because anything can happen," Williamson said.
Virginia counters with a balanced offense, with Kyle Guy's 15.3 points per game the top number followed by De'Andre Hunter at 14.4 and Jerome at 13.2.
The Cavaliers have won 12 consecutive ACC road games. Last year's victory at Duke snapped a 17-game skid for Virginia in that building.
After the Virginia Tech game, Guy said, "We want to take this momentum going into Cameron. We love playing on the road."
Virginia has won nine consecutive games against ranked opponents.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 17, 2019