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Duke 66 Virginia Tech 48

It looked like a blowout, but Duke had to push through fatigue to get it.

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Feb 25, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies forward Trevor Thompson (32) looks to pass against Duke Blue Devils forward Rodney Hood (5) and forward Amile Jefferson (21) at Cameron Indoor Stadium
Feb 25, 2014; Durham, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies forward Trevor Thompson (32) looks to pass against Duke Blue Devils forward Rodney Hood (5) and forward Amile Jefferson (21) at Cameron Indoor Stadium
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Duke had a magnificent start against Virginia Tech, but stalled for a bit before ramping back up in the second half and finishing the job, 66-48.

The stall is perhaps understandable, given that Duke had five games in ten days after the UNC postponement (by the way, any idiot who thought Duke wanted to postpone the UNC game clearly didn't think the consequences through).

Of the five, three were unusually intense: Maryland, trying to shiv Duke one last time before leaving the ACC, only to fail at the very moment of glory. UNC's knife was longer and more fatally deployed. And the Syracuse game of course was huge in more ways than one.

Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were on a smaller scale, but both teams played hard and pushed back.

That was certainly true of the Hokies, who deserve a lot of respect for fighting back after going down 24-4.

In the second half, Virginia Tech pulled to within seven when Jarell Eddie scored to make it 34-27.

That was pretty much it for the Hokies.

Aside from Duke having vastly more talent, Virginia Tech is dealing with significant injuries.

Realistically, when Duke turned to its bench, James Johnson wouldn't have players to match under the best of circumstances. With multiple injuries, though, barring a Randolph Childress/J.J. Redick sort of three point outburst, it was a question of time, exhaustion and attrition, and Duke did more than enough to win.

We should take a moment to discuss the new Virginia Tech. James Johnson has no doubt heard people calling for his head.

First of all, it's a bit early for that - he's only had two years and one recruiting class. He deserves time to get his players in under his system.

But we wanted to talk about it on a different level too.

Under Seth Greenberg, in almost every game, at least for Duke, there was something that looked like a dirty play.

Greenberg's team walked that line a lot, and we came to understand that if it wasn't encouraged, it certainly wasn't discouraged. He was responsible for his team, and his team all too often crossed that line between playing hard and something worse.

There wasn't a hint of that from Johnson's team. These guys got their clocks cleaned, got up, dusted themselves off and kept trying. It's a team with heart and worthy of respect. And given the games it's given Pitt, Miami, Virginia and State, despite considerable adversity, the team has improved.

That speaks well of the coach but doesn't do much for the bottom line of course. Tech is in the basement behind even BC, and the Eagles at least have that glorious lightning they bottled against Syracuse.

But as this group grows up and develops (and adds new pieces), there's some potential.

Cadarian Raines (from Petersburg, Virginia, the hometown of legendary Moses Malone, by the way) and Jarell Eddie are seniors, but they won't be missed long.

Virginia Tech has a potentially excellent backcourt with Adam Smith and Ben Emelogu, both currently injured, and Devin Wilson. Wilson had six turnovers against Duke, but he's a freshman. He also showed some pretty impressive ballhandling and more quickness than we might have expected.

We've always been intrigued by sophomore Joey Van Zegeren, and the athletic 6-10 Dutchman gave Duke some trouble inside, blocking three shots.

Freshman Trevor Thompson, 6-11 and also thin, will be a different player by this time next year.

Marshall Wood is also getting over an injury and played just seven minutes. CJ Barksdale will be back for one more season too.

That's a core you can at least build on. Johnson deserves more than two seasons, particularly given the injuries he's faced this year.

We might add that his team has some character and that should count, too.

Back to Duke.

The Hokies managed to contain Jabari Parker reasonably well, but with Duke, if you cut off one scorer and let the others go, you've only solved part of your problem.

And sure enough, Rodney Hood made getting in the middle of Tech's zone a habit, and when he did, he scored easily.

No one else shot particularly well, understandable given the NBA-like stretch of games.

Well that's not entirely true: Amile Jefferson was 3-3 and Marshall Plumlee was 2-3: Duke's post players shot 83.3%.

Otherwise, blah: Jabari Parker was 3-11, Rasheed Sulaimon was 4-11, Tyler Thornton was 1-5, Quinn Cook 1-5 and Andre Dawkins 1-5.

So to put a bow on it, Duke's backcourt was 7-26, 7-27 if you count Matt Jones' one miss.

Understandable, as we said, given tired legs.

On a more positive note, Thornton had seven assists and Sulaimon had five.

Sulaimon's becoming not just an excellent passer, but he's clearly enjoying no-look and lookaway passes. What we enjoy about watching him is that when he plays with confidence, he gets arrogant in a really nice way. It's a real asset.

After this exhausting 10-day stretch, Coach K plans to rest his players. Practices will be light, school work will be made whole, and Duke will not play again for a week when the Devils visit Wake Forest.

After that, it's home for Senior Day and the rematch with UNC.