GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jeremy Roach scored 23 points and No. 21 Duke locked down defensively to beat No. 13 Virginia 59-49 in Saturday night's Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship, securing a title in Jon Scheyer's debut season as the successor to Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Freshman Kyle Filipowski added 20 points and 10 rebounds as the tournament's most valuable player for the fourth-seeded Blue Devils (26-8), who completed a final-month surge to the top of the ACC to claim a league-record 22nd championship. It also marked the ninth straight win for Duke, a streak that began with an overtime loss at Virginia in which a league-acknowledged officiating error cost the Blue Devils a chance to win in regulation.
This time, Duke grinded its way through to the horn by leaning on a defense-first approach that Scheyer has pushed all season. The Blue Devils held the second-seeded Cavaliers (25-7) to 33% shooting, with Virginia missing both contested and clean looks while committing nearly as many turnovers (12) as made shots (16).
The Blue Devils never trailed, leading by as many as 14 points and keeping the Cavaliers — playing a methodical pace and their own defensive-minded style — working to inch closer all night.
Reece Beekman scored 12 points for Virginia, which drew to within six on Isaac McKneely's 3-pointer with 3:05 and five on Kihei Clark's layup off a scramble with 1:07 left. Finally, Beekman pulled Virginia to within 53-49 on a driving layup around Filipowski with 44 seconds left.
But the Blue Devils didn't wobble, hitting six straight free throws to clinch this one. Roach hit four of those, turning in a veteran's composure on a freshman-laden team reminiscent of some of his big postseason moments during last year's Final Four run.
Scheyer, the 35-year-old former Blue Devils player and assistant, started the year with the impossibly difficult task of replacing a legend who won more than 1,200 games and five NCAA championships — one coming with Scheyer in 2010.
Now Scheyer is the first to win an ACC Tournament title as both a player and a coach in league history, and only the third first-year coach ever to claim the title.
Scheyer finally started to wave his arm to the Duke fans behind the bench for noise with freshman Mark Mitchell preparing to go to the line for the final free throws with 22.1 seconds left.
Moments later, Scheyer began exchanging handshakes and high-fives with his staff as freshman Tyrese Proctor began dribbling out the clock. The horn sounded and Proctor flung the ball skyward, screaming as the players began to mob each other.
Scheyer soon stepped onto the postgame midcourt stage as his players danced around the trophy, wiping his brow and taking in the scene in the moments before the 7-foot Filipowski walked up behind him and wrapped his arm around his coach’s shoulders.
McKneely added 10 points for Virginia, including a pair of 3-pointers for a team that shared the ACC regular-season title. But veteran point guard Kihei Clark struggled to six points on 1-for-9 shooting while committing one assist against three turnovers.
Duke: Offense had been the story for Duke through the first two games in the tournament, with the Blue Devils beating Pittsburgh and No. 14 Miami while averaging 90.5 points and shooting 58.7% and tallying 43 assists. It wasn't nearly as easy this time as Duke shot 42%, but the defense — blessed with length and athleticism — made Virginia work for everything.
Virginia: The Cavaliers were seeking their fourth ACC Tournament title and third under coach Tony Bennett, whose first title came here against Krzyzewski's Blue Devils in 2014. Virginia beat North Carolina and Clemson to reach the final despite losing starting forward Ben Vander Plas to a season-ending injury on the eve of the tournament. That altered the rotation here in Greensboro, with Kadin Shedrick seeing more minutes inside, and it will force more adjustments for the NCAA Tournament ahead.
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