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Jan. 28, 2002

The seventh ranked Virginia basketball team walked into Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday night with a different look and expectations. With the four freshmen making their first visit to Durham, you might have expected a deer in the head lights response by the first year players. However, the four freshmen and the entire team put forth its most aggressive effort of the season in the 94-81 loss to the #1 ranked Blue Devils.

During a fast and furious first half, in which 26 personal fouls were called, freshmen Jason Clark (11 points in the half), Elton Brown (8 points in the half), and Keith Jenifer (4 points, 4 assists, no turnovers in the half) showed the kind of gumption needed to compete on the road in the ACC. Roger Mason, hounded by Dahntay Jones and other Duke defenders all night, only had one field goal during the first twenty minutes but provided steady leadership and got his teammates involved early with four assists. “We gave so much attention to Mason and he is so good that he makes his teammates better,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski stated. Travis Watson scored seven points early, but played only seven minutes in the half as he picked up his third foul of the half with 11:11 remaining. That is when the freshmen really took over as Elton Brown hit two big three-pointers and Jason Clark was 5-5 from the field on a variety of inside moves that enabled the Cavaliers to stay close and end the half tied at 42. Keith Jenifer was one of the keys in creating those easy chances for his teammates as he pushed the ball up the court during the first 20 minutes and broke the Blue Devils press consistently. “Keith was tremendous, he attacked very well,” said Virginia head coach Pete Gillen.

The Cavaliers found themselves in serious foul trouble as Chris Williams, Travis Watson, JC Mathis, and Jason Clark all began the second half hampered with three fouls each. With the interior Virginia players in foul trouble the Duke team took advantage by attacking the hoop on drives and controlling the boards on the defensive end. Coach Krzyzewski noted the change in the second half, “We did a much better job in the second half rebounding and the defensive boards created transition opportunities.” Duke outscored Virginia 52-39 during the second twenty minutes with thirteen of their nineteen baskets coming off of assists from their teammates and many of them lay-ups. The momentum swung in favor of the Blue Devils early as first Chris Williams picked up his fourth foul and then Travis Watson his fourth and they were both on the bench within the first minute of second half. “We had a chance, foul trouble hurt us and they capitalized,” Pete Gillen stated after the game. Duke’s largest lead was nineteen at 87-68 with 3:23 remaining, but the Cavaliers competed until the final buzzer outscoring the nation’s #1 ranked team 13-7.

Not happy with moral victories this team looks forward to its next challenge and an opportunity to play Duke again February 28th. Pete Gillen summed it up, “I’m very proud of our team, we played very hard against a great Duke team.” Roger Mason put it this way, “We’re disappointed that we lost this game. We feel like we could have come in here and won and that’s the bottom line. We knew what we were capable of before this game and I don’t think anybody in the locker room is looking for any moral victories.” With Maryland coming up January 31st its important for the ‘Hoos to continue working hard and improving each week. Let’s continue to show our appreciation and make a lot of noise this Thursday night when the Terrapins visit University Hall.

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