ACC Tournament
Virginia Tech basketball’s disruptive defense and scorching start help the Hokies avoid a late Duke rally to defeat the Blue Devils 74-67 in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech basketball defeated Duke 74-67 Tuesday night. The Hokies used tough tenacious defense in the first half to build an 18 point lead as they led from start to finish. Tyrece Radford led the way for the Hokies with 18 points and eight rebounds. Keve Aluma added 17 and Jalen Cone finished with 14. Jeremy Roach and Matthew Hurt led the way for Duke with 22 and 20 respectively, while DJ Steward added 14. Virginia Tech moves to 10-2 (4-1, ACC) and will play next at Wake Forest on January, 17. Duke falls to 5-3 (3-1, ACC). The Blue Devils will travel to Pittsburgh on January, 19.

1) Virginia Tech Scoring by Committee

Virginia Tech basketball entered tonight’s game with seven players who averaged at least seven points per game. The story was nothing different against Duke. In the first half alone eight players scored for the Hokies out of the nine who entered the game. Five Hokies had more than one field goal made just in the first half. This is what makes Virginia Tech’s offense special. The Hokies can score at all three levels, and they aren’t worried about who finishes the game as their leading scorer, they just want to get the job done.

2) Duke’s Defensive Struggles

Duke cleaned up their defense in the second half against Virginia Tech only allowing 28 points. However, if the Blue Devils cannot find a way to play tough defense, it’s going to be a long season for Coach Krzyzewski and Duke. The struggles are in Duke’s secondary defense. The Blue Devils are second in the ACC and ninth in the nation averaging 9.6 steals a game. They are aggressive defensively and tough on the ball, but that’s where the defense ends. As soon as a Blue Devil is beat off the dribble the secondary and help defense is non-existence. Virginia shot 63.3% from the field in the first half because they score 24 points in the paint. Duke is struggling and their offense isn’t reliable enough to allow this game to game. Throughout the first half and late down the stretch, Duke’s help defense was late to find the cutting opponent leading to easy layups kick out 3-pointers. 

3) Virginia Tech’s Disruptive Defense is Important

The Hokies shot out of the gate against Duke. They led by as many as 18 in the first half before taking a 12 point lead at halftime. The Hokies played their best basketball in the first half in large part because of their disruptive defense. Virginia Tech had active hands that constantly disturbed Duke’s offense and gave them fits. Virginia Tech forced nine turnovers in the first half alone and deflected balls nearly every time down the court. This type of defense allowed Virginia Tech to score easily in transition. Duke made their run in the second half to make things interesting in large part because Virginia Tech backed off. The deflections stopped, and they only forced three second half turnovers. To continue to have success in the ACC Virginia Tech needs to be disruptive.

Feature image Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


By Matt Karner

Big East hoops writer for NCAAM Review Bracketologist for Busted Bracketology ( Twitter: @karner44 Instagram: @karner44