Devils Get Defensive, Grind Past UVA for ACC Title

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Jeremy Roach scored 23 points and No. 21 Duke locked down defensively to beat No. 13 Virginia 59-49 in Saturday night’s New York 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 gground 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.

Noting Saturday Night’s ACC Tournament Final
– The 2023 New York Life ACC Tournament Championship is Duke’s first since 2019 and extends the Blue Devils’ league record to 22.

– Duke’s Jon Scheyer becomes the third in ACC history to lead his team to the tournament title in his first year as a college head coach, joining the Blue Devils’ Vic Bubas (1960) and North Carolina’s Bill Guthridge (1998). Scheyer, Bubas, Guthridge and NC State’s Sidney Lowe as the only four to guide their teams to the finals in their first year of head coaching.

– Duke’s number of ACC title by head coach: Vic Bubas 4, Bill Foster 2, Mike Krzyzewski 15, Jon Scheyer 1.

– Duke’s Kyle Filipowski becomes the seventh freshman to receive the Everett Case Award as the tournament’s most valuable player, joining UNC’ Phil Ford (1975), UNC’ Sam Perkins (1981), UNC’s Jerry Stackhouse (1994), Duke’s Jason Williams (2000), UNC’s Brandan Wright (2007) and Duke’s Zion Williamson (2019).

– Duke’s 21 tournament MVPs are the most in league history.

-Duke, which is the all-time winningest program in the New York Life ACC Tournament with 110 wins reached the finals for the 35th time, tying North Carolina for the most in league history.

– The Blue Devils have posted a 102-40 record at the Greensboro Coliseum dating back to 1960. Duke is 44-18 all-time in ACC Tournament games in Greensboro, where it has won the championship nine times.

– Duke’s Scheyer was 7-2 in the ACC Tournament as a player at Duke, including a 6-0 mark in his final two seasons as the Blue Devils claimed championships in 2009 and 2010. He was 16-5 as a Duke assistant coach with titles in 2017 and 2019.

– With this year’s ACC Tournament title, Duke received the ACC’s automatic berth in this year’s NCAA Tournament. It will be the 45th appearance in school history. The Blue Devils claimed the national title in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015.

– Virginia is 46-65 all-time in the ACC Tournament and 20-25 in Greensboro.

– The Cavaliers are now 8-5 all-time as the tournament’s No. 2 seed.

– Virginia’s 25 wins heading into the NCAA Tournament are the most for the program since the NCAA Championship team of 2019 won 35. It is the Cavaliers’ sixth 25-game win season under current head coach Tony Bennett.

– This year’s championship game was only the second of the past 20 contested by the No. 2 and No. 4 seeds. It was the 10th such meeting all-time, with each seed winning five times.

– Duke had won eight straight games entering tonight’s contest and Virginia was on a four-game run. It marked only the third of the past 25 New York Life ACC Tournament championship games in which both teams entered with winning streaks of four or more games. In 2016, North Carolina entered with a four-game streak and beat Virginia, which had won five in a row. In 2012, Florida State took a four-game streak into the final and made it five with a victory over North Carolina, which had won nine consecutive outings.

– Duke led for 93% of the time (6,699 of 7,200 seconds) in its three tournament wins. It trailed for only 3.8% of the time and was tied for the remaining 3.2%.

– Duke has now defeated Virginia 16 times in the New York Life ACC Tournament (16-4). That’s the second-highest win total by one team over another. Duke’s total of 17 wins over NC State (17-9) is first on the list.

ACC Team