You know how it’s a good night? When you build a 24 point second-half lead and beat Virginia Tech 81-65. You know how it’s a really good night? You do that when your best player isn’t at his best.
That would be Kyle Filipowski, who finished with 12 points on 3-7 shooting and three rebounds, far below his usual level.
He also picked up one more facial blow, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
Tonight, unlike many nights earlier in the season, Duke could afford for Filipowski to be off, largely because Duke may have come closer to its potential Saturday than it has all season. Duke came out and just rocked the Hokies from the beginning.
The defense really gave Virginia Tech fits: Duke limited the Hokies to 40.4 percent and if you looked, you’d probably find out that a lot of those came in garbage time. Michael Collins, who was the guy who popped Filipowski in the throat last time, was just 1-4. Sean Pedulla was 5-14. Hunter Cattoor was just 2-4 for six points. Grant Basile hit 5-10 and Justyn Mutts 5-11, but there weren't many second-chance shots as Duke really controlled the boards, 37-26, denying the Hokies multiple opportunities.
Dereck Lively and Mark Mitchell came up huge for the Blue Devils on both ends.
Lively easily exploited Virginia Tech’s weak interior, hitting 6-6 from the field for 13 points and most of those on alley-oops for dunks. He also blocked three shots and changed several more. He rebounded with authority too.
He and Mitchell, who was 6-8 for 17 points, were ruthless and the smaller Hokies couldn’t contain them on either end.
They also had trouble with Jeremy Roach who got loose a lot. He did hit 2-4 on threes but a lot of his points came on drives. He had some nice assists on those drives, too, and at least two passes that were bobbled right under the basket. He was really impressive, finishing with 19 points and 11 assists.
You know what else is impressive? The massive confidence that Tyrese Proctor now has. Did you see the steal he pulled off on Cattoor, knocking the ball loose, picking up the dribble and taking off - just to leave Cattoor on his keister? That was a great play.
Duke didn't get much from the bench but this time, it wasn’t important.
Think about that: if you’d said Filipowski would have an off game, Dariq Whitehead would shoot 1-5 and Jacob Grandison 1-2 and the three of them would combine for 18 points and Duke would win going away, how many people would have believed you?
Things have changed.
Not everything though.
As noted above, Filipowski took another shot above the neck from Virginia Tech, with the first one of course coming in Blacksburg: in this one, he was guarding Basile, who swung the ball up, hitting Filipowski in the face with his elbow and leaving him on the ground. After review, the officials reversed the call, assigning it to Duke’s young big man.
So correct us if we’re wrong, but Filipowski has been roughed up now at Virginia, at Virginia Tech, at Clemson, at home against UNC (where he was thrown to the ground) and now against Virginia Tech and Cameron.
The bad news is he’s really getting hammered. The good news is Duke is 21-8 overall and 12-6 in the ACC.
NC State got killed Saturday by Clemson and Virginia lost to UNC, so Duke is now up to 5th place in the ACC. State still has to go to Durham and Virginia still hosts Clemson and Louisville. They seem like easy wins but the Cavaliers really haven't played well in February.
All in all right now, it’s probably better to be in Duke’s position.
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Player Of The Game vs. Virginia Tech
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