Joe Harris had just scored a career-high 36 points, essentially half of his team’s total in a 73-68 victory against No. 3 Duke, and the junior guard was talking about “a team effort” and how the Cavaliers played “sound defense.”
Joe, was that the best performance of your basketball career?
“I guess you could say that,” he finally allowed.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t quite as reluctant to heap on the praise.
“Harris was fantastic, which we knew he would be. He’s just one of the best players in the country,” Krzyzewski said. “When you have a guy playing at that level … it brings everybody up. You know you’re playing with a stud.”
Harris and Akil Mitchell, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds, combined for 55 of the Cavaliers’ points as they celebrated the 11-year anniversary of their last victory over a top 5 team by doing it again on Thursday night.
When Virginia’s 16th consecutive home victory was finished, fans stormed the court.
“It’s just great,” senior point guard Jontel Evans said. “They’re the reason we go so hard when we’re here. We feed off their energy. They’ve been great. They’ve just been unbelievable this year. I’ve never seen support like this.”
Virginia (20-8, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat No. 3 Duke 87-84 11 years ago, their last top 5 victory.
This time, Duke never led.
“That’s unbelievable right there, that they never led in the game,” Evans said.