CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — RJ Barrett got it started, Zion Williamson filled in some gaps and Cam Reddish added a late flurry.
In No. 2 Duke's latest installment of Freshmen Gone Wild, all three — and point guard Tre Jones — had starring roles tonight as the Blue Devils used an early barrage of 3-pointers to stun No. 3 Virginia, and then held off the Cavaliers, 81-71, to sweep the season series.
"That really sets the tone for us and we played defense today as well," Barrett said of the fast start that saw him make five 3-pointers before the game was 12 minutes old, helping Duke quiet a sold-out John Paul Jones Arena with the host Cavaliers already trailing 29-15.
"We were just in our zone and it's great to see when our team is like that," Barrett said.
He finished with 26 points, Williamson had 18 and Reddish had 17, including three 3-pointers early in the second half.
"It's any given night for all of us," Reddish said after finishing 5 of 8 from beyond the arc, with three coming in a span of less than three minutes. "We all can do a mixture of everything and it just depends on who gets found, who's open and it's a simple as that."
Duke finished 13 for 21 from 3-point range after making just 2 of 14 in a 72-70 victory against Virginia on Jan. 19.
"It's a little bit deflating when they're banging 3s and you're trying to keep them out of the lane," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said.
Bennett thought his team might have over-adjusted by focusing too much on trying to close off the inside, but his counterpart, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, thought it was at least as much a case of his own players recognizing the strategy change.
"My players felt it," Krzyzewski said. "That little bit of room — they took advantage of it without any kind of coaching."
The Blue Devils (21-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) ended Virginia's 13-game home winning streak and won their third straight in Charlottesville. They now share first place with North Carolina and have two games left with the Tar Heels.
Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome each scored 16 to lead Virginia (20-2, 8-2), which plays the No. 8 Tar Heels on Monday night.
Duke led 31-17 before two 3-pointers by Guy, one by Jerome and another by Kihei Clark fueled an 18-8 run for Virginia that closed the gap to 39-35 at the half. After the break, Reddish connected three times from deep as the Blue Devils pushed the margin to 52-41 in just over four minutes.
Virginia kept trying to close the gap, and got within 66-61 on De'Andre Hunter's 3-pointer with 5:25 left, but Marques Bolden scored in close for the Blue Devils, Williamson scored on a stickback and Tre Jones hit a pull-up in the lane, boosting the margin back to 72-61.
LeBron James sat under the basket at the Duke end of the floor and didn't get up to leave until about 1:15 was left on the game clock. Former Duke great Grant Hill was also in attendance, as was Ralph Sampson, Virginia's three-time national player of the year.
Late in the game, Hunter was open in the left corner and either lost control briefly or took too much time setting up for a 3-pointer. By the time he got it off, Williamson came flying at him and knocked the shot several rows deep, one of his three blocks.
"There's maybe two people in the world that can make those plays and they both were in our gym," Bennett said in an apparent nod to James' visit.
Duke: Williamson is the player that everyone seems to focus on in pregame warmups because of his physical gifts, but it's Barrett that leads the Blue Devils in scoring (23 points per game to Williamson's 22 entering the game). When Barrett and Reddish shoot as well as they did Saturday, Williamson can be a part-time decoy who still manages to do plenty of damage.
Virginia: The Cavaliers appeared shocked by the first 12 minutes, during which the Blue Devils were 7 of 8 on 3-pointers and 10 of 14 overall in taking a 29-15 lead. They gathered themselves and had several runs that energized the crowd, but a team that's 20-0 against everyone else never could get over the hump against arguably the country's most talented squad.
Duke: The Blue Devils remain on the road, playing at No. 16 Louisville on Tuesday night.
Virginia: The Cavaliers head to Chapel Hill to play No. 8 North Carolina on Monday night.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Duke has completed a regular-season sweep of Virginia in another matchup of two of the nation's top three teams.
The Blue Devils won 81-71 in John Paul Jones Arena, getting 26 points from RJ Barrett.
Duke is 9-1 in the ACC, tied with No. 8 North Carolina for the lead in the regular-season standings. The Blue Devils are 21-2 overall.
The game was Duke's first in a key six-game stretch that will see them play at No. 16 Louisville on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils also scored the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee's overall No. 1 seed in its preliminary rankings released today. Tennessee has been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll the past three weeks, has one loss and owns Division I's longest winning streak.
Barrett hit his first five tries from three-point range. His fifth one gave them a 29-15 lead after less than 12 minutes of play. Cam Reddish took over after that, hitting five of his first six, the last three early in the second half as the Blue Devils rebuilt their lead to 52-41. He finished with 17 points.
Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome each scored 16 to lead Virginia (8-2, 20-2), whose 13-game home winning streak was snapped. The Cavaliers lost to the Blue Devils at John Paul Jones Arena for the third consecutive time.
The game drew a sellout crowd, most hoping Virginia could avenge a 72-70 loss at Duke on Jan. 19, but it was the Blue Devils who put on a show in front of LeBron James and past stars from both schools.
Duke scored the first eight points on a pair of 3-pointers by Barrett sandwiching a steal and dunk by Zion Williamson. The lead was 31-17 before two three-pointers by Guy, one by Jerome and another by Kihei Clark, which fueled an 18-8 run for Virginia that closed the gap to 39-35 at the half.
After a break, it was Reddish who took over from long range, connecting three times as the Blue Devils pushed the margin to 52-41 in just over four minutes.
Virginia kept trying to close the gap, and got within 66-61 on De'Andre Hunter's three-pointer with 5:25 left, but Marques Bolden scored in close for the Blue Devils, Williamson scored on a stickback and Tre Jones hit a pullup in the lane, boosting the margin back to 72-61.
The NCAA committee revealed its preliminary rankings on Saturday and it was Duke, not the Vols, earning the No. 1 overall seed.
The Blue Devils were listed as No. 1 in the East Region, and the Vols topped the South, with Virginia in the Midwest and Gonzaga out West earning the other No. 1 seeds.
"They are heading to the East by the slightest of margins," committee chairman and Stanford athletics director Bernard Muir said. "There was a very close conversation between the No. 1 seed and the No. 2 seed, but the strength of schedule won out in Duke's case."
Duke was slated to play in Washington in an East Region that includes Michigan, Marquette and Iowa State.
Tennessee tops a South Region in Louisville with North Carolina, Purdue and Nevada.
Virginia led a Midwest Region in Kansas City that also includes Kentucky, Houston and Wisconsin. The West Region in Anaheim, Calif., had Michigan State, Kansas and Louisville with the Zags.
The initial rankings offered a preview of the committee's thoughts five weeks before Selection Sunday on March 17.
The NCAA ditched the RPI this season for its own ranking system, the NCAA Evaluation Tool, to select teams for the NCAA Tournament. The NET relies on game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and quality of wins and losses.
Duke, after beating Virginia tonight for a second time, has losses to Gonzaga and Syracuse, but blew out Kentucky in its season opener, knocked off Auburn and Texas Tech and plays in the loaded ACC.
Tennessee's only loss was to then-No. 2 Kansas. It has the longest winning streak in school history, 17 straight victories. The Vols (21-1, 9-0) moved to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 in Week 12 after Duke's loss to Syracuse.
"When I say they're the No. 2 seed, really, in the committee's mind, it was 1A and 1B," Muir said.
Muir said defending national champion Villanova was the last team out of the rankings, with Virginia Tech, Texas Tech and LSU also being considered.
Kentucky, the top No. 2 seed, was placed in Kansas City instead of playing just down the road in Louisville, so it can't play No. 1 Duke until the Final Four.
Kansas was moved out West for competitive balance in the bracket. Lawrence is about 40 miles from the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Nevada, No. 6 in the AP poll, was the No. 14 overall seed in the initial rankings after opening the season 21-1. The Wolf Pack's loss came at New Mexico on Jan. 5, and Muir said they were close to earning a No. 3 seed.
"We're so happy to be part of today, but we know there's five weeks of basketball to be played and a lot of work to be done by a lot of teams, including ourselves," Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. "We just want to get better in all facets of the game. We have a lot of tough venues on the road. With eight games to play, anything can happen."
Louisville was placed in Anaheim because the South Region will be played on the Cardinals' home court, giving them an unfair advantage.