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Virginia Tech Dominates Duke 89-75

It wasn’t really that close either.

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia Tech
Dec 31, 2016; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Luke Kennard (5) shoots shoots while being defended by Virginia Tech guard Seth Allen (4) and forward Zach LeDay (32) in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer
Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

There wasn't much question about which team deserved to win Saturday. Virginia Tech out hustled Duke, outplayed Duke, out-hearted Duke, if that’s a word (guess it is now) and just generally played more as a team. And the right team won this one.

If you want to get down to it, there were two main differences in this game.

  1. Virginia Tech did a better job of playing together and
  2. Virginia Tech was far more aggressive

Duke was knocked back from the start of the game. Virginia Tech heated up from three point range and also drove into Duke’s defense successfully.

The Hokies shot 55.2% overall and 61.4% from three point range - 8-13 - which is an incredible performance. Justin Bibbs was 4-5 while the other Justin, Justin Robertson, was 2-3. Ahmed Hill hit “just” 50% with 2-4.

The Hokies made 32 shots and of those 18 were assisted. By contrast, Duke had 28 baskets and eight of those were assisted and three of those were by Amile Jefferson, who primarily plays inside.

Most of the offense fell to Luke Kennard by default - the rest of the team hit just 17 shots - and he came through as well as could be expected, scoring 34 points. He also had seven of Duke’s 41 rebounds.

The Hokies did a solid job of limiting Jefferson’s inside scoring and that hurt too.

Jayson Tatum had 18 points on 6-14 shooting.

With Grayson Allen suspended, Frank Jackson got the start and while Duke doesn’t discuss injuries, he appears to be still limited. Early in the season he was flying on dunks; now, he’s not really elevating much at all and getting layups instead (he hit 3-9 this time out).

As he has so often, Matt Jones tried to pick his team up by himself but he couldn't pull it off this time. Jones finished with four points on 2-8 shooting and like the rest of his team, had trouble stopping Virginia Tech’s barrage.

The big question is would Grayson Allen have made a difference. In a perfect world, yes, but he’s dealing with the fallout of his suspension and even if he had played, who knows?

He would’ve defended - he always does - but would have had his usual flair? It’s impossible to say.

We are sure of this though: it must have killed him to see his team picked apart and not be able to do anything about it. If it wasn’t clear to him before it should be now: he let everyone down.

The only question for Allen now is how to respond.

On the positive side, Duke is starting to see more from Harry Giles and Marques Bolden.

Both big men are returning from injuries and not in game shape. Giles showed some flashes though, scoring four points and grabbing eight rebounds. You can start to see what all the fuss was about.

Bolden had three rebounds, all on offense, in a fairly short stint.

Chase Jeter had one rebound and one block in his time on the court - Duke was trying to find someone who could do something positive (Jack White got a brief look as well) especially inside.

Didn’t happen though so congratulations to Virginia Tech for a brilliant performance. Look for the Hokies to be ranked come Monday.

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