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Sulaimon, No. 23 Duke edge upset-minded Virginia

Durham, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Rasheed Sulaimon broke out of a scoring slump with a season-high 21 points, the last three coming on a go-ahead jumper with 18.8 seconds left that lifted No. 23 Duke to a much-needed 69-65 win over Virginia at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke (13-4, 2-2 ACC) squandered a 13-point lead with eight minutes left, but avoided its first 1-3 start in ACC play since 1995-96 behind late heroics from Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson, who capped a 10-point, 15-rebound night by hitting a pair of game-sealing free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining.

Rodney Hood added 14 points for the Blue Devils, who went 10-for-22 from 3- point range to survive the Cavaliers' late charge and hand Virginia (12-5, 3-1) its first conference loss of the season. Sulaimon hit on 4-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Cavaliers' rally, with Joe Harris finishing with 15 points and Justin Anderson netting 12 off the bench.

"To show that kind of heart and to climb back in and have a one-point lead [late], I told the guys, 'Don't hang your head about that,"' said Virginia ` coach Tony Bennett. "That could have gotten away, and they scrapped and fought their way back."

The Blue Devils were seemingly in control when Hood's layup with 7:59 to go staked his team to a 56-43 advantage, but Virginia came storming back over the final 3 1/2 minutes to put the outcome in doubt.

Anderson dropped in six straight points during an 11-0 run that brought the Cavaliers all the way back. With Duke clinging to a three-point edge, Brogdon drove the lane and scored while being fouled by Jabari Parker with 1:25 left, then sank the subsequent free throw to forge a 63-63 tie.

After Sulaimon made 1-of-2 from the line to put the Blue Devils back in front, Brogdon was grabbed in the lane by Tyler Thornton and hit both bonus shots, giving UVA its first lead of the night at 65-64 with 36.5 seconds on the clock.

Jefferson saved Duke's next possession with an offensive board and got the ball out to Sulaimon, whose corner three bounced off the rim and went through to send the Blue Devils ahead again.

"Amile, he played tremendously tonight and he got the biggest rebound of the night," said Sulaimon. "And when he got it I just tried to make myself available. I'm just trying to shoot it with confidence and I'd like to thank God and the basketball gods. They were on our side tonight."

Harris misfired from in close following a wild scrum in the closing seconds, with Jefferson -- a 41 percent free throw shooter on the season -- grabbing the rebound and making both from the line to seal the victory.

"I haven't been shooting as well as I want to from the line, but those two shots weren't my shots -- they were Duke shots," said Jefferson.

Sulaimon scored the first five points of a 13-2 run that enabled Duke to gain some separation midway through the opening half. Jefferson contributed six points during the surge, which he capped with a layup for a 25-12 Blue Devils' lead with 6:21 to go in the period.

Duke furthered the margin soon afterward, with Sulaimon canning another 3- pointer and burying a transition jumper following a Marshall Plumlee rejection on the other end to put the Blue Devils up 30-17 four minutes prior to intermission.

Still down by 13 entering the final two minutes of the half, Virginia seized some momentum with an 8-3 push that cut Duke's advantage to 36-28 at the break. Harris then knocked down a trey to begin the second half, pulling the Cavaliers within five.

Virginia closed the gap to 42-39 on the strength of a 6-0 flurry, but Duke countered with a 12-2 sequence to go up 54-41 just past the midway mark of the second half.

Game Notes

Sulaimon's previous season best of 20 points was set in Duke's season-opening rout of Davidson on Nov. 8. He had averaged just 6.3 points over his last three games ... Virginia was dealt a 16th straight loss at Cameron since its last win at Durham, which came on Jan. 14, 1995 ... Blue Devils guard Andre Dawkins made his 200th career 3-pointer early in the contest, becoming the 13th player in school history to reach the mark ... Duke, coming off Saturday's 72-59 defeat at Clemson, improved to 23-1 in games following a loss since 2009-10.

01/13 23:17:30 ET

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