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AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Shelden Williams has heard the theory throughout his career that offense often comes from defensive intensity.

On Saturday night, he experienced it, using four first-half blocks to get into the game and scoring a career-high 20 points as No. 8 Duke pulled out of its ACC road slide with a 78-59 victory over Virginia.

“It kind of set the tone of the game,” the 6-foot-9 freshman said of his defense, especially against Virginia scoring leader Travis Watson. “I made my presence felt early. It was `none of that weak stuff.”‘

The fast start fed off itself, helping Williams score 14 of his points in the second half when the Cavaliers never got closer than 13 points.

“Once I see myself helping out and blocking shots and doing some rebounding, I’m more confident getting the ball and making a move to the basket and finishing,” said Williams, who made eight of 13 shots.

For the Blue Devils (17-4, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), it was a welcome sight. They ended a four-game road losing streak and now can head into their game at No. 16 Maryland on Wednesday night feeling better.

“This was a very big game for us,” said Dahntay Jones, who had 17 points. “We had to get a road win under us and get our confidence up.”

Virginia (14-9, 5-6) lost for the first time in 11 home games, and for the 15th time in its last 17 meetings with the Blue Devils. The two victories had come in Duke’s last two visits to University Hall.

Duke’s victory came just two nights after a double-overtime loss to Wake Forest that put the Demon Deacons atop the ACC standings, and coach Mike Krzyzewski said the Blue Devils’ energetic start was a good sign.

“I thought we were full of life right from the beginning,” he said.

The Cavaliers, instead, looked like they were the worn out team.

“We just couldn’t score,” coach Pete Gillen said. “We usually do a better job of pump-faking and using the rim as protection.”

Duke hit its first three shots, slapped the ball away repeatedly on defense and had Williams reject four others to intimidate the Cavaliers, who had 10 turnovers by halftime and shot just 34.6 percent on 9-for-26.

Duke used a 19-4 run to open a 27-10 lead with 7:54 left in the half, opening a lead the Cavaliers never challenged. Daniel Ewing scored eight points and J.J. Redick finished it with a 3-pointer and a jumper.

“We had to stay focused. We’ve been in too many tight games on the road,” Jones said. “We kept attacking and we never let up.”

In the second half, Williams turned offensive. He scored 12 of Duke’s 14 points over a five-minute stretch, ending with Duke ahead 60-45.

Redick, the Virginia Group AAA player of the year after leading Cave Spring High School of Roanoke to the state championship last year, added 15 points for the Blue Devils despite being jeered repeatedly.

He also didn’t help his popularity here by scoring a Duke freshman record 34 points in the Blue Devils’ 104-93 victory at home on Jan. 15.

Elton Brown led Virginia with 18 points and Todd Billet had 13. Foul-plagued scoring leader Travis Watson had six points, almost nine below his average, and 10 rebounds, and was victimized by at least two blocks.

“The only guy that played really well was Elton,” Gillen said. “The other guys just didn’t have it. They didn’t make shots, didn’t play well.”

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