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Duke Blue Devils men's basketball 'punched in the mouth' by Virginia Cavaliers on heels of emotional UNC win

Duke was still thinking about Saturday's win over North Carolina on Monday night. Virginia was thinking about March.

The Cavaliers dominated the first half against a sluggish Blue Devils team, fresh off an emotional win against rival North Carolina, then delivered the final dagger on a 3 from Reece Beekman with 1.1 seconds left, upending Duke 69-68.

For Virginia, it was a second straight signature win. Before the drama in Durham, the Cavaliers thumped Miami on Saturday, and have now won three straight, moving them squarely onto the tournament bubble.

For Duke, the loss was a vital lesson on the rigors that await if the Blue Devils want to send coach Mike Krzyzewski off with a championship.

"Teams are hungry, and we've got to be hungry after we've eaten," Krzyzewski said. "They were hungrier and tougher than we were tonight."

Virginia dominated the paint, outscoring Duke 52-28, running quick cuts to the basket again and again to build a 12-point lead in the first half. But the 3-balls weren't falling.

By the time Beekman took his final shot, Virginia was just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc, and the struggles allowed Duke to chip away at the Cavaliers' early lead.

Duke finally pulled ahead with 4 minutes to play, and the Blue Devils had a chance to seal it in the final minute, but Paolo Banchero's errant pass ended with a turnover, and Beekman's 3 was, according to ESPN Stats & Information, just the third game winner with less than 2 seconds on the clock made by an opponent at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the past 25 years.

"We were 2-of-12 from 3," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "I'm glad we weren't 1-of-12."

Banchero's error, coupled with Mark Williams' flubbed coverage on the final inbounds that led to Beekman's 3, proved the recipe for yet another close loss for the Blue Devils. Their four losses this season have come by a total of nine points, and Duke has had a lead late in each one.

"We lost four games that we for sure should've won," guard Trevor Keels said. "We for sure should be undefeated. But we'd rather this happen now than in March."

Both teams could think ahead to March when it was over.

Virginia appears to finally have righted the ship after a rocky start to the season that included ugly losses to Navy, Clemson and NC State. But the Cavaliers are now 15-9 overall and 9-5 in ACC play, and they'll get Duke in Charlottesville in two weeks.

"They punched us in the mouth," Keels said, "and UVA is a good team."

The Blue Devils, meanwhile, are midway through a stretch of four games in 10 days, this one coming on the heels of a dominant win in Chapel Hill, a victory matched by the emotions of Krzyzewski's final game at the home of his most renowned adversary. Putting that emotion behind them proved impossible for the Blue Devils two days later.

"We were fighting that pretty much the whole game, fighting human nature," Krzyzewski said. "Not attitude, but human nature. It's tough to do multiple outstanding things. But if you really want to be a champion, that's what you've got to do."

Banchero's late turnover was the nadir of a dismal second half for the Duke star, too. The team's leading scorer took just one shot in the second half -- a miss -- and finished in single digits in scoring for the first time in his Blue Devils career.

"He's touching the ball," Krzyzewski said. "He needs to take more shots, and he needs to take his jump shot."

Duke and Virginia both have sights set on March. Monday might be a catalyst for both.

"There's not much you can do now but learn from it," Williams said. "We've got to watch film and realize how to fix it going forward and go from there."