Duke vs. Virginia - Postgame Reactions and Takeaways

In all honesty, I was prepared to start writing this during the under-4:00 TV timeout, but I was a little slow getting my computer out.

Good thing, too, because Duke mailed it in then, too.

Quinn Cook's layup with 4:22 left pushed the Blue Devils' back up to 11, with Duke having maintained that comfortable lead throughout most of the second half.

Then Duke took their foot off the gas and Virginia became the aggressor. The Devils stopped scoring, and the Cavaliers did it in bunches, going on a 13-1 run.

That led to a 65-64 UVA lead with 37 seconds left, leaving Cameron Indoor Stadium eerily quiet.

What seemed a foregone conclusion was now looking less and less like a reality.

Then Amile Jefferson rebounded a Rodney Hood miss, and kicked the ball to a wide open Rasheed Sulaimon in the corner.

The shot went up and hit the rim, bouncing high in the air.

Then it dropped through the net.

The Crazies went into a frenzy, and Duke fans everywhere seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Jefferson's two free throws sealed the deal with seven seconds left, but no one left the gym feeling comfortable.

For Duke, those last four minutes signify everything that has plagued them throughout the year: mental toughness, or a lack thereof.

They came into this game hoping to make a statement, and they did just that for 36 minutes. They played tough defense, were aggressive offensively, were tough on the boards, and pushed the action. For 36 minutes, they forced Virginia to play their game.

But for the last four, they acted as though they had already won. They lacked aggressiveness, choosing instead to run the shot clock down and take tough shots at the end of the shot clock, which UVA would turn into points for themselves.

Now, Coach K is famous for doing this and making games shorter for the opposition, but usually in those situations, someone penetrates and gets into the lane at the end of the shot clock.

Instead, this team sat on their heels and took long jumpers they didn't have to work for.

Teams usually lack of mental toughness because of a lack of leadership, but I don't think that's the case with this Duke team.

All summer, and really for all season up until a few weeks ago, people were throwing praise all over this team, talking about how talented they are and are so unlike the other Duke teams of the recent past. And I think they bought into all the hype, thinking that they wouldn't have to work that hard.

Well, they've gotten their wake-up call.

Hopefully this team can take the momentum gained from winning a close game like this and start a hot streak.

And the key to that will be Jabari Parker. He struggled again tonight, scoring only eight points on 3-11 shooting.

Watching him closely, it's clear that he's forcing it. There was one fast break that sticks out in my mind halfway through the second half, where he stopped at the three-point line. Quinn Cook passed him the ball in stride, and instead of taking an easy jumper with his man retreating, he stopped briefly (allowing his man to recover) before launching a step back three.

The shot hit off the front of the rim, of course, as it seems all of his misses this. And shooters leave shots short because they're either trying to place the ball in the basket instead of shooting it, or they're just plain tired.

In Parker's case, I think it's a little of both. He may have hit that proverbial "freshman wall", where his body and legs aren't used to playing this many minutes against this level of competition so many times. This isn't uncommon (Wiggins hit his a few weeks back) because the shift from high school to college - in terms of the wear and tear on your body - is so much tougher, especially when teams are gameplanning around like they are for Parker.

However, I think he's compounding that problem by forcing his game, trying to make up for what he's lost, which usually leads to more bad shots.

The good news is he'll get out of it, maybe this weekend against NC State after this long layoff.

But no matter how Parker plays, Duke can only meet their goals and expectations this season by getting mentally tougher and bringing intensity night in and night out.

Tonight was a start, now let's see if they can maintain it.

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