Virginia Tech trailed by as many as six points in the second half, but they used a late run to come from behind and topple #1 Duke in Cassell Coliseum 64-60 on Saturday night. The Hokies improved to 19-8 overall and 9-5 in the ACC with the huge victory, and the Blue Devils dropped to 26-3 overall and 12-2 in conference play.
With the loss to the Hokies, Duke will no longer be #1 in the polls on Monday. This is the third consecutive week that the #1 team in the country has lost on the road. Virginia Tech improved their NCAA Tournament chances quite a bit with a quality win over Duke.
This was Tech’s third win over a #1 team in the last five years. No other team in the country has as many wins over the top ranked team during that stretch.
All five starters scored in double figures from the Hokies. Jeff Allen paced Tech with 18 points and 15 rebounds, while his frontcourt mate Victor Davila also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Davila was only 1-of-6 from the free throw line, and as a team Tech went 8-of-19 (42.1%) from the charity stripe, including some key misses late in the game. Despite the misses, they were able to hold on and win.
Terrell Bell and Erick Green each had 12 points, while Malcolm Delaney had 11. Delaney didn’t shoot well, going just 1-of-6 from three-point range, but he came through in the clutch, making his only three-point basket very late in the game at a critical time.
Virginia Tech’s defense was top notch all night long. The Blue Devils were just 39.7% from the field, including 4-of-20 (20%) from three-point range. Duke had only six assists on 23 made field goals, and the offense depended on either Nolan Smith or Kyle Singler making plays off the dribble the entire night. In the end, they couldn’t make enough.
Tech also out-rebounded Duke 44-38, while committing just six turnovers. Seth Curry played just 15 minutes for Duke, scoring no points and fouling out in the final seconds.
At the 6:11 mark of the second half, Nolan Smith drove the lane and banked in a layup to give the Blue Devils a 55-50 lead. Tech had put up a great fight, but it looked like Duke’s talent was about to take over the game.
However, the Hokies showed they had something left in the tank by going on a 9-0 run to take a 59-55 lead with 2:39 left in the game. Victor Davila got the run started with a big offensive rebound and dunk in the paint, and then Terrell Bell hit a three-pointer from the wing to tie the game at 55.
Bell hit a couple of free throws next, and Jeff Allen finally capped the run with a layup on the inside. Kyle Singler scored to cut the lead to 59-57, but Malcolm Delaney answered with a huge three-pointer to make the score 62-57 with 2:03 left.
At the 1:25 mark, the Hokies nearly gave the game away when Mason Plumlee picked off a pass at the top of the key and took it the distance for the dunk. That made the score 62-59, and Tech would have to hit some free throws to hold on, or so we though. As it turned out, the Hokies missed four free throws in the final seconds, including two consecutive misses by Erick Green, a normally reliable 80% shooter.
Fortunately it didn’t matter, and Duke never even got off a last shot. The game ended in a fitting manner, with Seth Curry getting stripped of the ball and then fouling out with 1.6 seconds remaining.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Tuesday night when Boston College comes to town for a 9pm tip.