For a good majority of Thursday night's game at Virginia, Duke answered every challenge and kept the Cavaliers at arm's length, but late clutch play from J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary lifted Virginia past Duke to a 68-66 overtime victory at John Paul Jones Arena.
Duke led 59-51 when Josh McRoberts on a drive down the lane with 3:42 remaining in regulation, but Reynolds took the game over in the closing minutes, scoring 13 straight points-including nine straight free throws-to put Virginia right back in position to force the extra five minutes.
That McRoberts field goal would be the last basket of the night for the Blue Devils, who were victimized by Singletary's 17-foot jump shot that tied the score with 24 seconds remaining.
McRoberts had a great opportunity to win the game on the last play, but his driving attempt in the middle of the paint bounced off the back iron as the seconds ticked off the clock.
Singletary played the role of hero again in overtime. With Reynolds having to repeatedly leave the game due to leg cramps, the junior point guard scored four of Virginia's seven points in overtime, including the game winner with one second left when he drove past McRoberts from the right wing and hit a fading floater on the baseline that he released with his back almost parallel to the floor.
Greg Paulus got a great look at a three pointer off a 70 foot pass from McRoberts, but Duke's final shot at victory hit off the back of the rim.
"It was a heck of a game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "[Virginia's] free throw shooting at the end of regulation, to go up and hit clutch free throws like that was big. Their two guards are sensational, and we had some shots, including the one at the end of regulation that were great shots and we just didn't knock them down."
Paulus missed a leaner in the lane on Duke's last regulation possession that would have given the Blue Devils a four point lead, but the miss opened the door for act one of Singletary's end game heroics.
"Greg had [a shot] in the overtime and really the last play of the game. We executed so well, and that's what a close game boils down to. I thought both teams played their hearts out, great win for them and a really tough loss for us. That's life in the ACC," Krzyzewski continued.
Duke dominated much of the first half, racing out to a lead that reached as many as 13 points, but Virginia closed the first half on an 8-2 run to pull within seven at halftime.
The Cavaliers threated Duke on numerous occasions in the second half, pulling within three points or less on five different occasions before ultimately catching the Blue Devils and forcing the overtime.
Duke played another stellar defensive game, as the Blue Devils were buoyed by David McClure's ability to play after suffering a hyperextended knee last Sunday against Boston College.
McClure led Duke with seven rebounds and also had two big blocks, but it was Virginia's defense down the stretch that ultimately decided the game, as Duke went without a field goal for nearly the final nine minutes of play.
"I thought we had some good shots, we just didn't hit them," Krzyzewski said. "[Virginia] did play good defense, too. What you want to do is try and get fouled, but we didn't put ourselves in position to get that. They executed well."
McRoberts led Duke with 19 points, with Paulus and DeMarcus Nelson also reaching double figures.
The Blue Devils didn't get their usual production from freshman Jon Scheyer, who struggled from the field and finished with just seven points.
The loss snaps Duke's five game winning streak and drops the Blue Devils to 5-3 in the ACC out of the upper third of the conference standings, while Virginia improves to 6-2 to remain in the thick of the league race.