January 4, 2009
Hokies drop ACC opener at Duke
By Jimmy Robertson
Virginia Tech (9-5, 0-1 ACC) 311344
(5) Duke (12-1, 1-0 ACC) 393069
  • Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C. - 9,314
  • High Points: 12 - Malcolm Delaney
  • High Rebounds: 5 - Jeff Allen, Cheick Diakite

DURHAM, N.C — Two Duke scoring spurts, one in each half, turned out to be Virginia Tech’s undoing, as the Hokies fell to the No. 5 Blue Devils 69-44 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday night in the ACC opener for both teams.

With the loss, Tech fell to 9-5 overall on the season, 0-1 in the ACC. The Hokies fell to 1-4 in ACC openers since joining the league. Duke moved to 12-1 overall, 1-0 in the league.

Tech got off to a horrible start in this one and never led. The Hokies fell behind 11-0 right from the tip, misfiring on their first eight shots from the floor, and they didn’t hit their first field goal until the 13:30 mark of the first half.

The Hokies, however, gradually got back into it, pecking away until they cut the Duke lead to eight at the break (39-31) and to four when Cheick Diakite’s basket made the score 39-35 with 17:30 remaining in the game.

But it was all Duke after that, as the Blue Devils outscored the Hokies 30-9 the rest of the game. Tech hit just four field goals the rest of the game, and overall, the Hokies scored just 13 points in the second half, attributing much of that to Duke’s defense.

“We scored 13 points in the second half,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “I hope that’s the case.

“They did a good job of switching [on screens]. They pushed us out, and we didn’t really respond. We made a lot of bad decisions. We’d get the ball to the front of the rim and either miss a shot or throw it away.”

For the game, the Hokies hit just 36.7 percent from the floor (second lowest of the season), including just 1-of-9 from beyond the 3-point arc in what marked their smallest scoring output of the season.

Malcolm Delaney led the Hokies with 12 points, hitting 6-of-12 from the floor. He was the lone Hokie in double figures.

Jeff Allen scored nine points, but turned the ball over six times – part of an 18-turnover night for the Hokies. Diakite had a nice game off the bench for Tech, scoring eight points and hitting 4-of-6 from the floor. He also grabbed five boards and blocked three shots.

A.D. Vassallo, the ACC’s second-leading scoring coming into this game at 19 points per game, scored just seven points, hitting 3-of-9 from the floor and seeing his streak of double-figure scoring games snapped at nine. It marked just the second time this season that Vassallo hasn’t reached double figures.

“They just beat us to the punch,” Vassallo said. “They played harder than us at the beginning of the game and then they finished it up at the end of the game. They played hard all the time and we didn’t match it. That’s what they do.”

Duke placed four players in double figures, led by Singler’s 19 points. The Blue Devils didn’t shoot much better from the floor than Tech, hitting only 40.7 percent, but they out-rebounded the Hokies (38-28) and forced 18 Tech turnovers.

“We lost,” Greenberg said. “We’ve got 16 more league games [counting at least one in the ACC tournament]. It’s one league game. Other teams are going to come in here and lose. We’re not going to be the only one.”

Tech returns home for the first time since Dec. 14 when it takes on UVa next Saturday. Tip-off for the game is slated for 4 p.m.

For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MBBall).

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