For the first minute or so of this game, it looked as if Virginia Tech was going to play way above its normal level. Then Seth Curry and Quinn Cook and a lot of great basketball happened.
Curry hit three threes in the first six minutes and Cook tossed in five of his own to get Duke off to a solid start. How solid? Try this:
In the first half, Duke shot nearly 90% from three point range.
Before long, Duke, riding a 19-6 run, jumped out to a double-digit lead and by halftime it was up to 20.
You can't usually say this, but pretty much everyone played well for Duke.
That wasn't the case for the Hokies, though they certainly played hard. They just (with the exception of Erick Green) play all that well.
Green shot 8-14; the team overall was 22-51. Take Green away and it was 14-37, or 37.8%.
Well, okay, CJ Barksdale was good offensively: he was 6-6 for 14 points. Cadarian Raines managed 10 points.
That left 10 points for the rest of the team.
Duke outrebounded Tech 32-9 to 23-7 and forced 12 turnovers along with four blocks. Virginia Tech was limited to eight assists as well.
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For Duke, Curry finished with 22; Mason Plumlee got a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards (and three of the blocks). Rasheed Sulaimon knocked down 17 and Josh Hairston finished with 11, which was a big offensive game for him. He contributes a lot, just not so much on offense.
Tyler Thornton came off the bench and got five assists and six points, while Amile Jefferson managed four points and five boards. Alex Murphy finished with eight. Marshall Plumlee and Todd Zavirovski played but did not score.
After the game, Green was keenly frustrated, saying "We're shooting through gaps instead of chasing Curry. It's crazy, man. We go over the same thing every single game, and it's just so frustrating. It boils down to paying attention."
As it turned out, they did such a poor job of that that James Johnson was forced to use Green on Curry.
Not that anyone should really blame them. Coachspeak demands that we overlook being tired or that we ignore inexperience.Â Doesn't mean they don't exist.
Virginia Tech has one great player in Green, a senior, and two adequate juniors in Raines and Jarell Eddie.
With 10 underclassmen, on-the-job-training is going to be hit-and-miss.
Still, we admire their desire to compete and their willingness to play hard. It speaks well of the players and of their coach.