DUKE GETS BYE
With the finish line of a marathon stretch of games quickly approaching, No.6 Duke put a quick end to Virginia Tech’s upset hopes Tuesday night.
Playing their fifth game in 11 days, the Blue Devils built a 20-point lead 10 minutes into the game, survived a sluggish stretch and whipped the Hokies 66-48 in ACC basketball at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke (23-6, 12-4 in ACC) won for the 11th time in its last 13 games. It went 4-1 in a five-game stretch that included games with Maryland, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia Tech.
“This was a good performance by our team, especially defensively,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “During this five games in 11 days, it’s been a grueling stretch.”
By besting the last-place Hokies (9-18, 2-13), the Blue Devils earned themselves an extra day off at the start of the postseason.
Clemson’s 62-57 loss at Wake Forest Tuesday night leaves the Tigers (17-10, 8-7) with three more league losses than the Blue Devils, who only have two regular-season games left. That means Duke can do no worse than finish with the No. 4 seed for the ACC Tournament.
The top four seeds earn spots in the tournament quarterfinals and don’t begin tournament play until March 14 — two days after the league’s six worse teams open the 15-team tournament on March 12.
Duke gets a nice stretch of rest beginning today as the Blue Devils don’t play again until a trip to Wake Forest on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN2).
But Krzyzewski related finding the energy to beat the Hokies to squeezing that last little bit of toothpaste out of a tube.
“You want to get that last little bit,” Krzyzewski said. “Today was `Let’s get it out there.’”
Duke’s coaching staff had to take the unusual step of getting on the team verbally during pre-game warm-ups.
“We came out and we started to warm up,” Duke sophomore captain Rodney Hood said. “When we came back in (the locker room) the coaches got us pretty good because we didn’t look like we were ready to go out there and fight.”
Perhaps because of that, Duke had plenty of energy from the opening tip and built a 24-4 lead. The Blue Devils hit four 3-pointers over the game’s first 11 minutes as Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon hit two each.
During an 11-minute stretch after Trevor Thompson hit Virginia Tech’s first basket of the game at 18:45, the Hokies made just one field goal while committing six turnovers.
“There were a whole lot of problems,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “That is a very good team that was fired up and ready to go. I thought that our young guys — we started two freshmen out there — were a little shell-shocked by the environment.”
Duke appeared to get comfortable the rest of the half and that wasn’t what the Blue Devils coaching staff wanted to see. The Blue Devils shot only 36.2 percent, hitting a mere 4 of 17 3-pointers, in the first half to lead 32-20 at intermission.
“We started out so great and we didn’t get the push we normally get from the bench,” Krzyzewski said.
That proved to be the case the entire night. Hood led Duke with 21 points while Sulaimon scored 15. Jabari Parker struggled to a 3 of 11 shooting night but still scored 11 points with 12 rebounds for his eighth double-double in the last 11 games.
The Blue Devils only received 10 points from its reserves as Quinn Cook and Andre Dawkins combined to hit just 2 of 10 shots for six points total.
Duke made only 10 of 33 3-pointers (30.3 percent) and Virginia Tech climbed to within seven points at 34-27 early in the second half.
But a pair of Sulaimon 3-pointers, the second at 15:07, helped push Duke’s lead back to double-digits at 42-29.
A 6-0 Duke spurt three minutes later, capped by Marshall Plumlee’s rebound slam dunk off a Sulaimon miss, extended the Blue Devils’ lead to a comfortable 51-36 advantage.
Duke cruised from there, stretching its home court winning streak to an NCAA-best 32, and can now take a breather.
|No. 6 DUKE 66, VIRGINIA TECH 48|
Percentages: FG .426, FT .857.
3-Point Goals: 2-9, .222 (Barksdale 1-1, Eddie 1-6, Wilson 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Van Zegeren 3, Thompson, Barksdale).
Turnovers: 15 (Wilson 6, Wood 2, Van Zegeren 2, Johnston, Thompson, Beyer, Eddie, Barksdale).
Steals: 4 (Thompson 3, Van Zegeren).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .387, FT .727.
3-Point Goals: 10-33, .303 (Sulaimon 4-9, Hood 3-7, Cook 1-4, Dawkins 1-4, Thornton 1-5, Jones 0-1, Parker 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Parker 3, Plumlee, Hood).
Turnovers: 9 (Jefferson 3, Parker 3, Hood 2, Plumlee).
Steals: 11 (Thornton 3, Parker 3, Sulaimon 2, Jefferson, Hood, Ojeleye).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Brian Dorsey, Gary Maxwell, Mike Roberts.