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Bob Sutton | Times News | January 19, 2019

Duke-Virginia preview: All hands will need to be on deck for No. 1 Blue Devils

DURHAM — Even with top-ranked Duke a bit damaged for Saturday night's game against unbeaten Virginia, this shapes up as a regular-season clash that has gained significant hype.

The Blue Devils are buying into the notion that there's a build-up exceeding most other games.

"Two great teams going up against one another and we just have to be ready to compete and fight every play and not get discouraged if things don't go our way," Duke forward Jack White said.

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Duke has had time to regroup following Monday night's overtime home loss to Syracuse. That was an encounter in which Blue Devils point guard Tre Jones exited early in the game with a separated shoulder.

But perhaps rather than diminishing the status of this much-anticipated showdown, it has added a sense of urgency for Duke. It's almost like there's a rallying cry to put together a plan that will allow the Blue Devils to overcome the likely on-court absence of Jones.

"Our outlook is the same," Duke forward Javin DeLaurier said. "Go win the game and come ready to fight."

No. 4 Virginia is one of two undefeated teams in the country, joining No. 2 Michigan with that distinction.

And because Virginia holds the No. 1 ranking in the coaches' poll, this is only the fourth No. 1 vs. No. 1 men's basketball matchup in NCAA history. In two of the previous three, The Associated Press' top-rated team has prevailed.

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That has no bearing on this matchup, but it does indicate the magnitude of the collision. The new polls don't come out until Monday, thus Duke keeps its top billing on one of the lists for at least a couple of more days.

This will be Duke's nation-leading sixth game against a top 15 team this season, though this marks the first of those to be played at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

In collisions between two teams in the top five, this will be the 16th such gathering at Duke's historic building. The Blue Devils are 11-4 in previous encounters.

"For us, it is just a game we have to win and we know that they are one of the last two undefeated teams in the country so hopefully we will be able to change that," DeLaurier said.

These teams are owners of the past two ACC Tournament titles, with Duke winning in 2017 and Virginia last year.

As if Duke wasn't reeling a bit earlier in the week, a night after its loss came another notable result: Virginia 81, No. 9 Virginia Tech 59.

This is the second year in a row and third time in five years that these teams meet with both squads ranked in the top five.

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Duke won the 2015 matchup in Charlottesville, Va., with Tyus Jones (older brother of Tre Jones) leading the way with 17 points. Virginia won last year 65-63 in Durham.

So, now this.

"A big game for us and a big game to prove ourselves and prove our maturity," White said. "We just have to be us and at the end of the day we can't shy away from who we are. We have to stick to our strengths and trust in one another and believe in (coach Mike Krzyzewski) and go out there and play hard."

Virginia has won 12 consecutive ACC road games. Last year's win at Duke snapped a 17-game skid for the Cavaliers in that building.

This article is written by Bob Sutton from Times-News, Burlington, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.