Many more games like this and Virginia's basketball team will set a school record for offensive futility.
The Cavaliers lost to fifth-ranked Duke 56-41 on Wednesday, dropping their seasonal scoring average to 61.8 points. Since joining the ACC in 1953-54, Virginia's lowest-scoring team is the 1984-85 bunch that averaged 61.2 points and finished last in the conference.
The second half Wednesday was particularly grim. The Cavaliers shot 23.1 percent and did not score their 10th point until Mustapha Farrakhan made a runner with 2:00 remaining and spectators streaming for the exits.
Allegedly a sellout, the crowd was as flat as the offense they watched. Sure, the Cavaliers defended a superior opponent reasonably well and surged to a first-half lead.
But not for a nanosecond was Duke in jeopardy. Not when Virginia led by five early, not when the Blue Devils committed a handful of senseless turnovers, and not even when All-ACC forward Kyle Singler went to the bench with four fouls in the midst of a lifeless performance.
Too much of Duke's Nolan Smith.
Too little Virginia offense.
And those storylines have been consistent throughout the season.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers can't score, especially absent the injured Mike Scott inside. Smith, meanwhile, has emerged as the presumptive ACC Player of the Year.
Gracious, without Smith's 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists, the game would have lacked any redeeming value.
"I thought we would be better than that," Bennett said.
Indeed, injuries to Scott and Will Sherrill notwithstanding, Virginia should be better. Duke defended well, especially shadowing perimeter shooters, but the Cavaliers missed myriad point-blank looks.
Farrakhan was their sole double-figure scorer with 11 points, but he missed 10-of-14 shots and after halftime contributed only two points.
"We really ran them off the 3s well," Duke forward Ryan Kelly said. "That was a big part of the game plan. We couldn't leave their shooters open. … We took them out of their comfort zone."
Virginia was reasonably competitive throughout the first half but trailed 34-26 at intermission after a panicked final minute.
First, Farrakhan forced a jumper that missed badly. On Duke's subsequent fast break, Sammy Zeglinski attempted to draw a charge from Smith.
It was neither smart nor close. Smith absorbed the contact, converted the layup and made the ensuing free throw.
Meanwhile, Singler was enduring his worst game since his freshman season. He committed five turnovers and four fouls and scored just two points in 23 minutes, matching the career-low he set in a 2008 ACC tournament loss to Clemson.
But it didn't matter as Virginia scored its fewest points in an ACC game since a 63-41 tournament loss to Duke in 1998. Heck, Wednesday's game featured fewer points than the 2010 football game between the schools, won by the Devils 55-48.
"At least (we) battled defensively," Bennett said, grasping for straws.
Duke won the teams' first meeting, last month at Cameron, with small ball. Coach Mike Krzyzewski replaced Kelly with guard Seth Curry, who ran the point and allowed Smith to play where he's most comfortable, off the ball.
The lineup matched up well with Virginia's naturally undersized group as the Blue Devils erased a six-point halftime deficit and won 76-60.
Duke (24-2, 11-1 ACC) needed no such juggling Wednesday.
Up next for Virginia: Saturday's annual visit from Virginia Tech and a rematch of the Cavaliers' 57-54 December victory in Blacksburg.
But those Cavaliers were fresh off their signature win, at then-No. 15 Minnesota. Those Hokies had lost two straight.
These Cavaliers (12-13, 2-8) have, after Wednesday, lost eight of their last 10 and three straight. These Hokies have won two in a row and are 13-3 since the Virginia loss.
The Cavs shot a crisp 46.9 percent in Blacksburg, a sterling 55.6 in the first half, after which they led by a dozen. But Scott's 21 points and 13 rebounds were the linchpins, and he's since been lost to an ankle injury.
Virginia has announced Saturday's game as another sellout, but how many folks will return after this?
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime, and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDPCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun