Simply put, it was not the Hokies night. Virginia Tech came into tonight’s showdown with a chance to leapfrog Marvin Bagley-less No. 12 Duke in the ACC standings, but fell on their faces in the second half. The game was competitive in the first stanza, as the Hokies trailed just 29-28 with 3:14 remaining. However, the Hokies had a weak finish to the half, allowing Duke to garner momentum going into the break, where they held a 36-28 lead.
Grayson Allen, who was suspended for last year’s game in Blacksburg, had one of his best games of the season. He had 25 points, many of them in spectacular fashion. At least three of his seven triples were from NBA range, and he had a number of other tough baskets in the paint. When a player of his talent gets hot, it is nearly impossible to cool them off.
As a team, Duke was on fire from the perimeter. They were 15-of-33 from three for the game, many of which came off of offensive rebounds.
Meanwhile, while Duke’s leader was able to get into a rhythm early, Virginia Tech’s Justin Robinson was on the bench for the majority of the game due to foul trouble. Robinson had been on a tear recently, averaging over 24 points in his last three games. He had 5 points on 2-of-10 shooting, a big reason why the Hokies put up their lowest point total this season.
In the second half, Duke shot the Hokies out of the building. At one point, they were 12-of-19 from the field, extending their lead from five to nineteen. Road teams generally do not come back from that type of deficit at Cameron Indoor. The effort was there for the first few minutes, but quickly evaporated once the Blue Devils hit dagger three after dagger three.
Even without Marvin Bagley, Duke was able to dominate the glass. Duke had 36 rebounds, including 11 offensive boards leading to 18 second chance points. The Hokies only mustered up 19 rebounds total with just 3 coming on the offensive glass. It just felt like the ball bounced the Blue Devils’ way tonight, and Virginia Tech was at the mercy of Duke’s shooting.
Justin Bibbs was the only Hokie who played remotely well. He led the team with 15 points, generally making good decisions and executing well. He knocked down his first three triples and finished 6-of-7 from the field. The Hokies needed a big game out of Kerry Blackshear, but that did not happen. KJ led the team with just 4 rebounds, but for the most part he was dominated on the block by Duke’s bigs.
The manner in which the Hokies lost the game is not encouraging, but good teams get blown out in Duke all the time. In addition, the Hokies get a second crack at Duke at home in 12 days - albeit with Marvin Bagley on the other side.
Virginia Tech faces their third road game in a row on Saturday, as they head to Atlanta for the first and only meeting with the Yellow Jackets this season. That is a game which they cannot lose.