DURHAM, N.C. – Duke opened the game with a 24-4 run, and Virginia Tech never recovered, falling 66-48 to the No. 6 Blue Devils in an ACC game played Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
With the loss, Tech fell to 9-18 overall on the season, 2-13 in ACC play, and the Hokies lost to the Blue Devils for the seventh straight time. Duke moved to 23-6 overall, 12-4 in the ACC.
The Hokies got off to a terrible start against the Blue Devils, hitting just two of their first 14 shots from the floor against the Blue Devils’ man-to-man defense. In contrast, Duke hit 6 of its first 11 shots, including four 3-pointers, and jumped out to the 20-point lead 10 minutes into the game.
“That was a very good team that was fired up and ready to go,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “Our young guys – we started two freshmen out there (Devin Wilson and Trevor Thompson) – were a little shell-shocked with the environment. But that’s a very good team, and they were ready to play.”
For the game, Tech actually shot better than Duke – 42.6 percent to 38.7 percent. But the Hokies turned the ball over 15 times and gave up 14 offensive rebounds. Plus, Duke seemed to come up with a 3-pointer at every key moment, particularly in the second half, and the Blue Devils finished with 10 for the game.
“That’s a combination of having very good players, and they’re used to making plays when they need to,” Johnson said. “Every time they needed to make a play, it seemed like one of their guys made one. They have several guys who can do it. It wasn’t just one guy. When we made a run and cut it to seven or eight, they had guys make plays.”
Tech settled down in the final eight minutes of the first half, hitting 7 of its final 10 shots from the floor. The Hokies used an 11-2 run to cut Duke’s lead to 26-16 on a layup by Trevor Thompson, and they went into the locker room down 32-20.
Tech cut Duke’s lead to seven, 34-27, in the second half on Jarell Eddie’s layup with 18 minutes remaining in the game. The score prompted a Duke timeout, and the Blue Devils promptly answered out of it, getting a 3-pointer from Rasheed Sulaimon that pushed the lead to 37-27.
The Hokies cut the lead to eight points on two more occasions, but they struggled in the final 10 minutes of the game. Tech scored just two baskets in the final 11:06, and Duke gradually pulled away.
“We got down so much early on, and that just killed us,” Tech center Joey van Zegeren said. “Basketball is a game of runs. They made some runs, and we made some runs to fight back. But there is no way you’re going to fight back from a 20-point deficit against Duke unless you keep pressuring them and keep making runs.”
Thompson, starting his sixth straight game, led the Hokies with 15 points and six rebounds. The freshman hit 6 of 9 from the floor and 3 of 4 from the free-throw line. He scored all six of the Hokies’ points in the final six minutes of the game.
“I came into the game, and I told myself to be patient on the offensive end,” Thompson said. “I wanted to do everything possible to help my team out. I feel like there was a lot of stuff that I messed up on – rebounds I should have had. When I get back to school, I’m going to go back to the gym and work on the stuff that I thought I should have done better.”
C.J. Barksdale and Eddie had 9 points each for the Hokies, while Joey van Zegeren finished with 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Rodney Hood led the Blue Devils with 21 points, hitting 9 of 17 from the floor, including three 3-pointers. Sulaimon added 15 points and hit four 3-pointers.
Tech returns to the court this Saturday when it takes on the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cassell Coliseum. Tipoff for the game is slated for 2:30 p.m.
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