Clarke put-back lifts Tech to upset of No. 5 Duke

(5) Duke (24-6, 12-5) 333063
Virginia Tech (21-9, 10-7) 273764
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 9,275
  • High Points: 17 - N. Alexander-Walker
  • High Rebounds: 6 - Kerry Blackshear Jr.

BLACKSBURG – Chris Clarke’s stick-back with 4.0 seconds left turned out to be the game winner, as Virginia Tech rallied from a nine-point deficit to register a 64-63 upset of No. 5 Duke in an ACC game played Monday night at Carilion Clinic Court.

For the second straight season, the Hokies beat the Blue Devils, and with this win, they moved to 21-9 overall, 10-7 in ACC play. Duke fell to 24-6, 12-5 in league action.

“I mean this respectively, and they should have the following they have, but in the three times we’ve played Duke since I’ve been here in Blacksburg, with each passing game, there’s less and less of a percentage of Duke fans in attendance,” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. “That speaks to the fact that there has been a groundswell of our group and how we’re trying to do it. There’s been a lot of good things that have happened this year that I’m very thankful for.

“The one thing that I would say is there’s also been multiple times when our guys could have stopped because it wasn’t working … but the fiber of how these kids were raised has given them an invincible layer of toughness where they just kind of hang in there and keep fighting. There’s something about the chemistry of the group and the togetherness of the group, and they just hang in there.”

Tech trailed 60-51 after two free throws by Duke’s Marvin Bagley III with 5:50 remaining, but closed the game with a 13-3 run, as the Blue Devils went the final 7:50 without hitting a shot from the floor.

Clarke, who had scored just two points in the game up until the final five minutes, started his personal game-ending surge – he scored Tech’s final six points – with a resounding dunk that cut the Duke lead to 63-60 with 1:24 left. Duke’s Grayson Allen turned the ball over on the Blue Devils’ next possession, and Clarke then scored again, receiving a nice pass from Justin Robinson for a layup with a minute to go to cut the Duke lead to 63-62.

Duke turned the ball over again with 33 seconds remaining, but Clarke missed a layup that would have given the Hokies the lead. Forced to foul, the Hokies put Trevon Duval on the free-throw line, and Duval missed the front end of a one-and-one.

That set up Tech’s final possession. Nickeil Alexander-Walker missed a short jumper with 6 seconds left, but Clarke got the rebound and laid it in to give the Hokies their only lead of the second half. Duke pushed the ball down the court, but Allen’s 3-pointer didn’t hit the iron. Wendell Carter Jr. got the rebound, but time expired before he laid it in, setting off a wild celebration in which Tech fans stormed the court.

“I thought we played with great poise,” Williams said. “It’s kind of a clip tape that we show our guys randomly throughout the year, not of us, but of other teams. It’s never the first shot. It’s always the second shot. Obviously, that came true with Chris’ put-back.”

Alexander-Walker paced the Hokies with 17 points, hitting 7 of 14 from the floor, including three 3-pointers. Justin Bibbs added 14 points in his final home game, and Kerry Blackshear Jr. finished with 13. Clarke scored eight.

Allen paced Duke with 22 points. The Hokies held the Blue Devils to just 40.7 percent shooting and forced 18 Duke turnovers.


• The win marked Tech’s first in ACC play in which it trailed at halftime and came back to win.

• The Hokies held Duke to 63 points — tied for its fewest of the season.

• The Hokies have committed 12 turnovers or fewer in 13 of 17 games. They are 10-3 in those 13 games.

• Robinson scored the 1,000th point of his career in the win.

• Robinson dished out five assists against Duke, marking the 19th time this season he has handed out at least five assists in a game.

• Robinson scored in double figures for the 16th time in 17 ACC games.

• Alexander-Walker played a career-high 35 minutes.

• The Hokies moved to 7-3 in games in which Devin Wilson has started, including a 5-2 record in February.



The Hokies close out the regular season with a road game at Miami on Saturday that tips at noon and can be seen on ESPN2. Tech has lost three of the past four meetings with the Hurricanes, including an 84-75 decision on Feb. 3.

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