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Duke Smacks Virginia Tech 88-64

The Blue Devils got a tremendous bounce-back from a disappointing State loss Wednesday night.

Virginia Tech v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 22: Vernon Carey Jr. #1 of the Duke Blue Devils defends Landers Nolley II #2 of the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 22, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Conventional wisdom suggests that you do not want to be the team that faces Duke after a Duke loss, especially a loss like the one earlier this week against NC State, where Duke’s toughness was questioned.

Conventional wisdom was right Saturday night. Duke jumped on Virginia Tech early and never let up, handing the slumping Hokies a decisive 88-64 defeat.

The win ran Duke’s record to 23-4 overall, 13-3 in the ACC, a three-way tie in the loss column with Louisville and Florida State, who play each other Monday night.

The Hokies dropped their seventh game in eight outings, dropping them to 15-12, 6-10 in the ACC.

Mike Krzyzewski said Duke had a hard practice Thursday, a practice focused on acknowledging mistakes and learning from them.

“It’s not a matter of busting their chops. It’s a matter of being honest with them. So, this is who we are. We are going to go on the court now, we’re not going to do animal drills or crazy-ass things. What they’re going to be are things we need to improve on. We had a really, hard good practice. . . . We talked about attitude and belief. Whenever there’s adversity the single biggest gift that God has given to you is attitude. Only you can control your attitude.”

Virginia Tech’s rotation is incredibly short for a power-conference team.

Which means Vernon Carey presents problems.

“We had no choice but to guard them the way we guarded them,” Tech coach Mike Young said. “I don’t know who in the world can guard Vernon Carey one-on-one . . . so we’ve got to constrict the floor. . . . But I thought he [Carey] did a marvelous job.”

Tech swarmed Carey and he didn’t force anything. With Carey doubled Tre Jones hit a couple of 3s to give Duke a 6-0 lead then Cassius Stanley hit two more and Duke was up 16-7, with Carey having the other four points.

“Coaches told me that I’m not going to score when they first pass it to me” Carey said.

“Kick it out and re-post quickly and make quick moves for the quick pass. . . . Coach tells the perimeter guys to be teed up and ready to go. If they double me, somebody is going to be open.”

Krzyzewski added that Duke is trying to feed Carey less from the baseline and more from the top of the circle, to give the big guy more room to maneuver.

It was one of those games where Duke just built the lead and built the lead some more, at least for the first 30 minutes. Carey even got into the act, hitting a 3 to put Duke up 28-14.

Duke hit 8-of-15 from beyond the arc in the first half, Stanley going 4-of-5.

While Duke was knocking it down, the Devils defense was shutting down Tech’s offense.

“Some length and just aggressive,” Young said of Duke’s defense. “The ball pressure just speeds you up and speeds you into uncomfortable situations. . . . One-pass possessions are fool’s gold. They may look like a pretty good shot but you’ve got to get it down.”

Tech didn’t get it down, especially their leading scorer Landers Nolley, who came into the contest averaging over 17 points but was held to 3 by a variety of defenders.

Wendell Moore was one of those defenders.

“That’s something we take pride in, especially myself, when I get an assignment like that. I take it personal. Everyone who guarded him did well. That was a huge thing for us.”

Duke started Carey, Moore, Stanley, Jones and Jordan Goldwire against the small but quick Hokies.

That meant Matthew Hurt came off the bench. But Hurt had one of his best all-around games of the season, 16 points but also 10 rebounds, a steal, 2 blocks and solid defense.

“We didn’t come to play Wednesday,” he said. “Coming in today we had to get off to a good start and we did. We really locked in on defense.”

Krzyzewski certainly noticed.

“Matthew played great. The defense he and Wendell had on Nolley. . . . Usually he [Nolley] takes advantage of the matchup at the 4. Wendell’s not a 4, he’s an athlete. Matt is more of a 4 but he played more like an athlete tonight. He moved his feet well. That was one of the keys to the game. And he really pursued the ball well in rebounding, going after it with two hands. That was one of his better games. He’s practiced that way. Hopefully, he’ll keep moving.”

Duke led 51-25 at the half, augmenting that 3-point barrage with a 28-14 dominance on the boards, while holding Tech to 29 percent shooting from the field.

The Blue Devils weren’t quite as sharp in the second half. But no worries. Duke did get the lead up to 30 at 69-39 and never saw it drop below 20 in the second half.

Jones says Duke has learned its lesson.

“I think we were satisfied a little bit. We didn’t think NC State would come out and hit us in the mouth the way they did. . . . It was a wake-up call and we need to come out sharp and not let it happen again.”


Stanley led everyone with 21 points, five more than Hurt and Carey. Jones added 14, along with 4 assists.

Tyrece Radford led the visitors with 16 points.

Duke cooled off a bit after halftime but still shot 43.5 percent from the field, 42.3 on 3s and 74.2 (23-31) from the foul line.

Tech shot 37.3 from the field, 8-for-24 on 3s. Duke won the battle of the boards 49-31, holding Tech to 5 offensive rebounds.

The win was Duke’s sixth ACC win this season by at least 20 points.

Wake Forest next, Tuesday night in Winston-Salem, 7 P.M.


Player Of The Game vs. Virginia Tech

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Wendell Moore
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    Vernon Carey
    (16 votes)
  • 73%
    Cassius Stanley
    (298 votes)
  • 2%
    Tre Jones
    (10 votes)
  • 0%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Justin Robinson
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Jack White
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Joey Baker
    (3 votes)
  • 14%
    Matthew Hurt
    (60 votes)
  • 0%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Mike Buckmire
    (2 votes)
408 votes total Vote Now