The No. 23 Duke Blue Devils badly needed a win Monday night against the Virginia Cavaliers, because Duke has not been good lately. It lost two of its first three ACC games, and a loss to the Cavaliers would all but ensure Mike Krzyzewski's team would fall out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 1784.* Duke's first two losses in ACC play were both on the road — at Notre Dame and at Clemson — but Monday's game was at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
*Duke has actually been ranked in the AP's Top 25 313 of the last 315 polls, according to Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com, a streak that may as well date back to 1784.
And when Virginia led 65-64 with about 37 seconds left, Duke needed something to go its way to win. Rodney Hood missed a layup with 23 seconds, but Amile Jefferson grabbed the rebound for Duke. Then Rasheed Sulaimon, already Duke's leading scorer on the night, took this three from the left corner:
Sulaimon, who finished with 21 points, gave the Blue Devils a 67-65 lead with about 17 seconds to go. Virginia's Joe Harris missed a layup attempt, and Jefferson scrapped for the rebound and was immediately fouled.
Jefferson was shooting 40.9 percent from the foul line entering play Monday, and he needed to hit a pair of free throws with 6.9 seconds to play so that Virginia wouldn't have a chance to tie it with one shot. He made the first. His second:
Sure, let's go with that.