The Hokies will face their biggest challenge of the season tonight when they take on #6 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. They’ll have to do it with a banged up basketball team, as usual.
Ben Emelogu: Out
Adam Smith: Out
Cadarian Raines: Questionable
C.J. Barksdale: Will play with an injured groin
That leaves Virginia Tech short-handed, which is the norm these days. With such a short bench, they’ll have to face one of the best teams in the country. Here’s a quick look at Duke’s starting lineup…
G Tyler Thornton (6-2, 190, Sr.): 3.4 ppg, 2.3 apg. Thornton runs the point effectively for Duke. He’s not a big scorer, but he’s shooting 51.7% from three-point range in ACC play.
G Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 190, Sr.): Sulaimon is averaging 9.1 points per game. He is shooting at a 43.9% clip from the outside.
F Rodney Hood (6-8, 215, r-So.): Hood doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves, but he’s averaging 16.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Like everyone else on this team, he can shoot it from deep. Hood is 43.6% from three-point range. He could be a top 10 pick in the draft in June.
F Jabari Parker (6-8, 235, Fr.): Parker is the super athletic freshman who is expected to be one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA Draft. He averages 19.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and he also leads the team with 37 blocks. He is considered by most to be the best player in the ACC.
F Amile Jefferson (6-9, 210, So.): Jefferson is a lengthy forward who averages 6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Besides those five starters, Duke also brings Andre Dawkins (6-5, 215, r-Sr.) off the bench. Dawkins is an excellent outside shooter at 45.3%. Here’s a look at Duke’s top three-point threats…
Dawkins: 58 of 128, 45.3%
Hood: 58 of 133, 43.6%
Parker: 34 of 89, 38.2%
Sulaimon: 29 of 66, 43.9%
Quinn Cook: 49 of 144, 34%
Thornton: 23 of 46, 50%
That’s a lot of shooters to account for, including Quinn Cook. Cook (6-2, 180, Jr.) has started 22 games this season, but he is expected to come off the bench tonight.
Let’s compare the offensive and defensive efficiency rating for each team…
Offensive: Duke #2, VT #275
Defensive: Duke #92, VT #150
The Blue Devils haven’t been quite as good defensively this season as they usually are, but they make up for it with a very talented offensive basketball team that can score from inside and outside.