Jan. 24, 1998

Virginia Gives No.1 Duke a Scare

Game Stats

By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Top-ranked Duke hasn't needed many late-game heroics in a season marked by runaway victories. When Virginia gave the Blue Devils a tussle to the wire on Saturday, Trajan Langdon provided them.

Langdon scored eight of his 15 points over the final 3:54, when the Blue Devils finally put Virginia away, and Duke equaled its second-best start ever with a 72-65 victory over the Cavaliers.

Langdon scored five straight points to extend Duke's lead to seven points, scoring on a drive with 3:54 left and a rainbow 3-pointer with 2:58 left.

"Langdon's shots were huge," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who gained his 491st career victory in his 700th game. The 3-pointer "not only went in, it gave us a three-possession lead."

The Blue Devils (18-1, 7-0 ACC) came in having outscored their opponents by an average of 30.8 points, but they couldn't shake Virginia (10-10, 2-5).

Before Langdon took over, the Blue Devils hadn't led by more than five points in the final 13 minutes. Several times, Virginia had a shot at the lead.

"It was a possession-to-possession game," Krzyzewski said.

Langdon changed that with his closing burst, which also included a 19-footer with 1:33 to play and one of two free throws with 31 seconds left.

"The whole game I hadn't gotten many touches, especially not in scoring position," he said. "It just happened there were two or three possessions in a row where I got some touches. I just felt in more of a rhythm."

Roshown McLeod added 16 points and nine rebounds for Duke, which kept intact a remarkable streak in which they've only trailed once after halftime all season - in their 81-73 loss at Michigan on Dec. 13.

The Blue Devils also equaled their second-best start ever, one first achieved in 1930 and exceeded only by the 21-1 start that the 1992 team had en route to its second straight national championship.

The Cavaliers, playing the No. 1 team for the third time this season, dropped to 0-3 in those games. They lost 103-59 at Duke on Dec. 6, then fell 81-73 at North Carolina on Jan. 10. Virginia is 1-18 against No. 1 teams in its history, and its players took no solace in playing Duke close.

"We did play better, but we didn't get a win, so regardless of how we feel about it, we lost," said Curtis Staples, who scored 20 points.

Norman Nolan led Virginia with 22 points, 13 in the second half, and said the Cavaliers should approach all games as focused as they were Saturday.

"We just have to do that every time and look at every game like it's against the number one team," he said. "We're not the type of team where we can go out, and have days where we don't play up to our capabilities."

Duke used an 8-1 run early in the second half to break a 37-all tie, but the Cavaliers rode Nolan's hot hand and two 3s by Staples to stay close.

Each time Virginia got within two, though, Duke answered. Once it was Shane Battier with two free throws, another time it was Chris Carrawell with a drive. Carrawell's basket made it 58-54, and after Willie Dersch hit a 10-foot jumper to cut the margin again, Langdon took charge.

"Those two shots in particular, those were big-time shots," Virginia coach Jeff Jones said. "He hadn't had a great day to that point, but he stepped up when they needed it the most and made those shots. And it really wasn't (plays) out of the offense - those were totally him."

Duke led 32-30 at halftime, the 19th time in as many games it has led at the break, thanks to a driving layup by William Avery as time ran out.

For Virginia, though, the first 20 minutes were a far sight better than in their loss in Durham, N.C. In that game, the Cavaliers had 22 turnovers in the first half and trailed 53-25 on their way to the 44-point embarrassment.

Krzyzewski's 491-209 record includes a 417-150 mark at Duke and 72-8 during the 40 weeks the Blue Devils have been ranked No. 1 under him.