Duke claims 22nd ACC title

Mar. 12—GREENSBORO — Duke beat Virginia at its own game Saturday night and made Jon Scheyer just the third head coach to win in his first ACC championship game.

In a defensive struggle that most times would favor the Cavaliers under head coach Tony Bennett, the fourth-seeded Blue Devils were more stingy and prevailed 59-49 in extending the program's record number of ACC tournament titles to 22 with its first since 2019.

.Before a packed house in the Greensboro Coliseum, Duke held second-seeded Virginia to 16 buckets on 48 attempts, forced 12 turnovers and picked 10 steals. For the longest time, the Cavaliers' shooting percentage stayed under 30 percent with the number of turnovers more than the number of field goals.

"Obviously Virginia is tough as can be, slower paced, they grind you," Scheyer said. "And to prepare for them in 24 hours and to defend them the way that we did, it's a credit to these guys and their focus and their fight on the defensive end. So really proud of them."

Scheyer, who replaced Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, joined Duke's Vic Bubas (1960) and North Carolina's Bill Guthridge (1998) as head coaches who have won the ACC tournament in their first try. Scheyer won two tournament championships as a Duke player and two as an assistant coach.

"I will say I'm not sure any of this happens without Coach K's initial vision of wanting — some coaches can say it, but not everybody means it or believes it, where they want to see the program continue on at such a high level. And he wanted it," Scheyer said.

Duke, which hit 19 of 45 shots from the field and 17 of 22 from the line, improved to 26-8 with its ninth victory in a row since losing 69-62 at Virginia on Feb. 11. Virginia fell to 25-7 as it lost for the first time in five games.

"Going through this for the first time, and for the regular season to end this way with winning the tournament championship is really special," Scheyer said. "So I want to enjoy this tonight. I want these guys to enjoy it. We'll figure out where we're going (in the NCAA tournament) tomorrow and worry about that then. But for tonight, enjoy it, and we have a lot to be proud of."

Jeremy Roach scored 23, including 19 in the second half as he kept hitting key buckets. Kyle Filipowski, who became the seventh freshman to win the Everett Case Award as the Tournament MVP, added 20 and also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Duke, ranked 21st, never trailed. The Blue Devils scored the first six points of the game, went on a 10-4 run late in the first half for a 23-11 advantage and led by as many as 14 at 36-22 when Roach hit a 3 with 14:26 left.

"Really before the game, they said go out and take it, really be aggressive, don't let them get comfortable or anything like that," Roach said. "We wanted to be the aggressors the first four minutes, and I kind of wanted to set the tone for this game, and I think I did."

But the Cavaliers battled back and kept the lead in single digits for the last 8:30. They mounted their last run at a comeback victory on the strength of a pair of fastbreaks layups, the first after a Roach turnover and the second one trimming the lead to five after a Roach miss. Filipowski then made 1 of 2 free throws and the Cavaliers converted another layup, trimming the lead to four and keeping their flickering hopes alive.

But they started fouling after that and the Blue Devils went 6 of 6 at the free throw line (with Roach hitting four) while the Cavaliers failed to hit another shot.

"Jeremy has pulled through for us so many times throughout the season late in the game," Filipowski said. "Just seeing how well it's worked, all of us have our full confidence in Jeremy and whatever Coach Scheyer calls, too, for him. I mean, he's always come up clutch, and there's times where he hasn't, but we've gotten his back. He had a turnover late in the game which gave them a fast break and cut the lead down, but we told him we had his back and we were just telling him to slow down, you'll be good. And eventually he got a few more plays where he made it up and helped us out."

Reece Beekman scored 12 in leading Virginia while Isaac McKneely had 10.

"Their length and their athleticism was real, and I think at times it sped us up, and we were at times a little bit uncharacteristic or a bit rushed," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "I think they sat down and guarded, we sat down and tried to guard hard, and there just wasn't a whole lot there. Then I thought we just missed some close ones, but I think their athleticism and length put some pressure on us, and at times we got sped up."