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Powerball: Duke Rips Virginia Tech 82-58

A really solid game with great leaps forward by Brandon Ingram and Marshall Plumlee

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Jan 9, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) shoots over Virginia Tech Hokies forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Jan 9, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) shoots over Virginia Tech Hokies forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Duke went almost 11 minutes without a field goal Saturday afternoon against Virginia Tech.

A two-point field goal, that is. Not that they needed any. Duke knocked down 3-pointers, four in a row over the first 2:05, sparking Duke to a 12-2 lead that was never seriously challenged in an 82-58 rout.

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Brandon Ingram hit the first two,15 and 33 seconds into the game. Grayson Allen followed with two more and the Hokies were in big trouble about as early as a basketball team can be in big trouble.

On paper this looked like a classic trap game. Duke was coming off a tough, road win against Wake Forest, while resurgent Virginia Tech was 2-0 in the ACC, a modest upset over NC State and a huge upset over Virginia.

But those two wins were in the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum and Buzz Williams’ young team wasn’t ready for the Cameron cauldron.

Duke extended its early lead from the foul line before another surge from downtown, 3-pointers by Ingram, Luke Kennard and Matt Jones, the latter making it 24-7.

The fast start "was big," Allen said. "That’s something we’ve been really trying to do—start off games strong. I think we did a good job of that. We were hitting shots but more importantly we played really, really solid defense."

A Plumlee dunk made it 29-14, with 9:31 left in the half. That was that initial two-point field goal. Tech began to spread their defensive rotations to cut off the bombs. Duke would only make two more 3-pointers after that initial explosion.

But that opened the floor for Plumlee, who has suddenly and emphatically emerged as an offensive monster, following his 18-point career-high against Wake Forest last Wednesday with a 21-point masterpiece against Virginia Tech.

That’s 21 points on seven field goal attempts and 10 foul shots, one miss each. And he rebounded his only missed field goal, leading to the aforementioned dunk.

"I’m fortunate to play with some really talented teammates who draw a lot of attention," Plumlee notes. "When you have guys like Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen getting into the lane every possession, they draw a lot of attention and that leaves openings for me or another teammate."

Plumlee’s week? Two games, 39 points, 17 rebounds, four blocks, 13-14 from the field, 13-14 from the line.

All this from a guy who scored a whopping 87 points all of last season. He scored more points this week than in the entire 2014 season.

Mike Krzyzewski has certainly noticed. "Before we started conference play, Marshall made a change in how he leads. He was leading mostly by example before then and very well. Since the conference has started, he has totally vested in leading the team. Some of the things we are doing offensively, places him in a position where he can be more productive. . . . . He was the key guy for us today."

It wasn’t just 3s and Plumlee. Duke shut down Virginia Tech early, holding them to 27 percent shooting in the first half, zero 3-pointers and a single offensive rebound. In fact, Duke’s one-center, four-perimeter lineup pounded VT 27-12 on the glass in the first half.

Krzyzewski said that Duke was able to crash the offensive boards more today because Virginia Tech doesn’t run much off defensive rebounds. Add 13 Hokie fouls before intermission and Brandon Ingram’s four first-half blocks and you’ve got a recipe for a team that just didn’t have many ways to score.

Williams said Duke sped up Tech and questioned his team’s shot selection. "We were overwhelmed. They were way better, they were way tougher. . . . . I thought they executed very well and we did diametrically opposed to that."

The half ended 50-23, Duke’s fourth half of 50 or more points since Christmas.

The second half was more about risk management than building on the lead. Krzyzewski said Duke was tired and you could tell, with some casual possessions, some missed foul shots and Matt Jones missing a layup without a Hokies defender in the same zip code. And Tech post Zach LeDay had a nice spurt where he scored 12 points in less than seven minutes.

But the lead never dipped below 21 and there was always Plumlee, who takes play off about as often as asteroids kill off the dinosaurs. Plumlee scored 11 of his points in the second half.

Sure they’re all dunks and layups. But you don’t get a degree-of-difficulty bonus. They either go in or they don’t and Plumlee’s shots are going in at a pretty high rate. He’s 39-56 from the field, it you’re keeping score at home.

That’s a smidge under 70 percent.

Plumlee has become the epitome of a player who knows what he can do, knows what he cannot do and plays to his strengths.


The win keeps Duke undefeated at Cameron, 14-2 overall, 3-0 in the ACC.

Virginia Tech drops to 10-6, 2-1.

Duke placed five guys in double figures, with Allen (16), Ingram (16), Jones (13) and Kennard (11) joining Plumlee. Plumlee and Ingram had 10 and nine rebounds respectively, with Allen grabbing seven. Derryck Thornton had a career-high seven assists.

Ingram ended with six blocks, Plumlee two.

LeDay, a transfer from South Florida, led the visitors with 18 points and nine rebounds. Tech made on 1-12 on 3-pointers, Duke 9-24 after that 4-4 start.

Krzyzewski is 16-3 against Virginia Tech.

For the second consecutive home game, Duke welcomed a former Maryland player. Seth Allen scored only three points on 1-9 shooting. Long Beach State’s Nick Faust visited late last month.