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Slow Watching Duke-Virginia Tech: The Second Half

This was an extremely interesting game in many ways. The Hokies are really, really dangerous.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia Tech at Duke
Dec 22, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jeremy Roach (3) lays the ball up in front of Virginia Tech Hokies forward Justyn Mutts (25) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 76-65.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Duke won this game but we’ll say this about our friends from Blacksburg: that’s a highly intelligent and disciplined team. A lot of teams won’t want to see them in March.

  • 19:42: A small but cool thing - watch as Moore gets briefly double teamed by Cattoor and Aluma. And look how quickly Aluma turns his attention back to Banchero. That guy is very attentive.
  • 19:25: Aluma again. What a brilliant pass, but Cattoor, the cutter, makes a brilliant fake that Moore totally buys into.
  • 19:11: You might look and think that Banchero makes a bad pass here but really it’s that Williams is still moving back into his defender when the pass starts. He can’t catch up to it.
  • 18:56: It’s really hard not to like this team. Watch Murphy and Mutts here. It’s like they’ve been playing together for years. Not quite. Great chemistry. Duke won but the way the Hokies played for much of this game would be a huge advantage in March. Assuming we have a March.
  • 18:40: Keels is a funny player. Sometimes you look at him and think well he’s not really all that quick, but that’s an illusion based on his size. Watch the fake he puts on Alleyne here. Also note that Aluma starts to pursue him but quickly pulls back so Alleyne can pursue. He’s unbelievably smart. We’re starting to understand that Mike Young puts a premium on intelligence.
  • 18:19: This is a Duke site, to be sure, but we admire smart players and Aluma is definitely that. Watch him poke the ball loose from Keels on the break and then, on the other end, when Williams turns his back to help defend, Aluma heads straight in and Mutts hits him for two (over Williams). Can you imagine Young signing a talent like this at Wofford? He really outsmarted everyone on Aluma. Tech is up 42-34 here.
  • 17:27: Aluma has to guard Banchero from behind the line all the way in and PB uses some slick ballhandling to lay it in as the clock runs down. BTW, Aluma’s dad played for the Kings and the Globetrotters. He grew up in Nigeria and played college ball at Liberty.
  • 16:57: Alleyne has a brain fart and throws it right past an open Murphy. Inexplicable. The replay of Aluma’s backdoor to Murphy follows. Check out the sharp angle he puts on that pass!
  • 16:51: Duke makes the much-discussed adjustment and now has Banchero, Moore, Keels, Roach and Griffin on the floor. Aluma has had trouble with Banchero all night and the big guy takes it right at him. Small but telling detail: Aluma could easily have fouled here but he didn’t. He went slightly back to avoid the foul. Banchero scores on the follow.
  • 16:14: With Banchero on him full time, life is more difficult for Aluma. He’s mobile enough to give Williams fits. Not so with #5.
  • 15:51: We could have mentioned this before, but there’s a fun game-within-the-game between Moore and Cattoor, 0 vs. 0. Cattoor draws the charge here.
  • 15:27: Bill Russell once said that if he could get Wilt Chamberlain just a few inches back from where he wanted to be he could slow his scoring down. Griffin may have done that to Aluma here.
  • 15:13: If you heard what Corey Alexander said about Banchero’s follow through, well maybe he did too. Nice rainbow by the big guy here.
  • 14:51: When you really watch Virginia Tech’s offense, it’s beautiful. Like this play where Murphy inbounds then goes straight to the corner where Banchero pressures him and he shoots it too fast. Still a beautifully conceived play run by a disciplined team.
  • 14:35: Look at this pass by Banchero. NBA scouts just drooled all over their shoes.
  • 14:15: Duke’s pressure with the small ball lineup is starting to get to the Hokies who, in the first half, rarely looked rattled. Alleyne popped a three with 15 left on the clock. In his defense, everyone else was covered.
  • 14:11: Moore takes the board and goes coast-to-coast in traffic.
  • 13:36: Roach shows off an explosiveness we don’t always see. One wonders if he’s still getting over his knee injury on some level. Wow. Too bad he missed.
  • 13:29: This is just not Alleyne’s night. In fact, he’s probably hurting his team.
  • 13:24: Look at what Mutts does here - one-hands the ball away from Banchero and up in the air, then bats it out to Murphy with great force. BTW, he has one degree from Delaware and will get his second master’s from VT this spring. Cattoor missed the shot though. 45-42 Duke.
  • 13:02: Remember when Moore seemed awkward and uncertain as a freshman? That’s so far gone. Look at this pass. Also, look at how little VT respects Griffin, leaving him completely alone and unguarded. 13-0 run for Duke.
  • 12:41: Nothing has been easy for Aluma since Duke went small. He’s a brilliant player but his athleticism may not translate to the NBA. If not, he’ll still be well-paid over seas. Very well paid.
  • 12:34: This play broke down early. Keels loses Murphy when he starts to switch onto Aluma, which Baker realizes as he leaves Cattoor to cover the now wide-open Murphy. Cattoor rambles around Duke’s defense, getting the ball outside and shooting near the top of the key to break Duke’s run up.
  • 12:07: Remember when Duke didn’t give Baker the keys to drive? Well he’s driving now and pretty damn well too. Left-handed in this case. Got a foul on Aluma also.
  • 12:01: It’s not unique to this particular game or anything, but check out the slick little fake Murphy pulls on Keels. This game has had a ton of moves like that.
  • 11:44: Watch Griffin take N’Guessan right on back to the Netherlands!
  • 11:19: Something weird happened to Cattoor here but whatever it was, it was self-inflicted.
  • 10:52: At this point, Banchero knows Aluma can’t stop him so why not? But he misses. But check out what Wendell Moore does on the rebound.
  • 10:22: Jeremy Roach kicked the ball but that doesn’t negate a sensational pass by Sean Pedulla. Seriously. That’s high-level stuff.
  • 10:18 Cattoor catches Baker looking away and pounces for the dunk!
  • 9:58: John Wooden always said to use the backboard, but how often do you see a guy get one this high off the board to go in? Griffin continues to impress.
  • 9:45: Roach darts in and knocks the pass to Keels, who gets it to Moore for an awkward but sensational layup. Banchero does the Zion flex.
  • 9:15: Check this out: Keels nearly strips Cattoor. Then when the ball comes back he almost picks another Hokie. Then Roach nearly picks Cattoor. Then Alleyne drives and kicks it back to Cattoor but Roach takes it away. That’s some serious ball pressure.
  • 8:46: Banchero is now so certain of his superiority that he is treating Aluma with casual contempt. This is fun. Well, probably not so much for Aluma. 27-7 run for Duke.
  • 8:20: We’ve said before that Griffin reminds us of Phil Ford physically. That is reinforced by this pass. The hustle after the miss is allllll Griffin.
  • 7:57: He’s not done yet - Griffin knocks the ball off of Cattoor’s head and Duke gets it back. Mike Young does his version of John Chaney’s death stare. It’s not nearly as good.
  • 7:42: Banchero is just abusing Aluma at this point.
  • 6:51: Mutts has been killing Griffin the last couple of trips. Doesn’t negate the sensational stuff he did earlier.
  • 5:35: This Pedulla guy is going to be a problem.
  • 5:10: News flash: Aluma cannot stop Banchero.
  • 4:20: Yes, Aluma is outmatched but he has other options. This was a wasted shot.
  • 3:52: Candyman gets some camera time! You’ll recognize him by the basketball on his head. He’s worn it for years. By day he’s a highly respected Raleigh realtor. Go figure.
  • 3:48: Griffin takes it to Mutts with a long three. Look how quick he gets it off though, putting Duke back up by 12.
  • 3:29: Mutts draws another foul on Griffin.
  • 2:27: Rare mental lapse by Moore as the ball passes through his hands and out of bounds.
  • 2:12: Griffin is game but clearly he can’t stop Mutts, who scores again inside on Duke’s ace freshman.
  • 1:21: Time is winding down and Keels gets trapped, and has to burn a timeout. Dean Smith harrumphs from the great beyond.
  • 1:14: Well this wasn’t good: Cattoor knocks the ball away from Moore and after it bounces around he picks it up and heads for the bright lights of Dunkville. Fortunately someone gets a hand on it. We can’t tell if it was Moore or Keels though.
  • 1:05: Really, Duke has made some bad errors in winning time. Moore had an unforced turnover, Keels let himself get trapped, and Cattoor knocked the ball loose and nearly had a breakaway layup. Add it up and the score could easily be 73-72 instead of 72-65.
  • 57.7: We propose a new drinking game: everyone takes a shot whenever Bilas says Keels looks like an NFL player.
  • 34.3: Back to the averted collapse: Duke gets hit with a 10-second call.
  • 32.4: Keels makes a sensational steal. Yes it was critical but look at what he’s doing with his body. Instead of reaching, he jumps to the left and then uses his hand to poke the ball loose and gives Duke a 76-65 lead.
  • 19.0: Maddox gets a three off but misses. The Hokies are done and know it.