DURHAM, N.C. — The nation’s top defense faced the top offense in an ACC showdown this past week.
The defense won it, and that could be Virginia coach Tony Bennett’s ticket to his first Final Four.
Hounding Duke into difficult shots and slowing its transition game, No. 2 Virginia knocked off the fourth-ranked Blue Devils 65-63 on Saturday.
Kyle Guy hit two free throws with 6.1 seconds left and Virginia (20-1, 9-0 ACC) held Duke (18-3, 6-3) 28 points below its scoring average to win at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time since 1995.
“We can be as good as we want to be,” Guy said.
The Cavaliers can make an argument for being the best team in college basketball this season.
Villanova (19-1, 6-1 Big East) has been No. 1 in the AP Top 25 the past three weeks and will likely remain there in Monday’s poll if it can beat Marquette later Sunday.
But Virginia will likely see a spike in first-place votes after beating the nation’s fourth-ranked team. The Cavaliers have the best record in Division I, the nation’s best defense (52.1 points per game) and the third-best field-goal percentage defense (37 percent).
Virginia hasn’t lost since Dec. 5 to No. 7 West Virginia and has a 2 ½-game lead over Louisville in the ACC after winning its 12th straight game. The Cavaliers also held No. 18 Clemson to 36 points in a 25-point victory last week.
“There’s talent and I don’t think our players sometimes get enough credit for their talent,” Bennett said. “But there is a synergy or a chemistry that when they’re right, it’s even better.”
BIG 12 RACE
No. 5 Kansas’ bid for a record 14th straight Big 12 title is getting tight.
The Jayhawks (17-4, 6-2 Big 12) appeared to be in control of the conference race, but an 85-80 loss to No. 12 Oklahoma cut their lead to one game over four teams.
The Sooners (15-5, 5-3) followed their victory over Kansas with a loss to Alabama , but that was part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.