The Virginia Tech football and women’s basketball teams are already ranked in the Top 25. The men’s basketball team is guaranteed to join them in the rankings on Monday. The Hokies dominated from start to finish, throttling #5 Duke 89-75 in sold out Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. Tech improved to 12-1 overall and 1-0 in the ACC, while Duke dropped to 12-2 and 0-1 in league play.
Virginia Tech started the game on an 8-0 run, firmly took control, and never trailed. The Hokies led by as many as 20 points, and spent most of the game up by double figures. Tech led 47-31 at halftime, and the Blue Devils were never able to put a run on the Hokies in the second half. They cut the lead to 52-41 on a Luke Kennard three-pointer with 15:29 remaining, but that was as close as they got. Justin Bibbs answered with a three-pointer of his own, and Duke was never able to gain the momentum.
Bibbs, who had scored a total of just two points over his previous two games, paced the Hokies with 18 points. He was 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-5 from three-point range in 24 minutes of action.
“Going into something like that, you can’t lose confidence,” Bibbs said after the game. “You gotta keep shooting. Just keep shooting, stay in attack mode.”
“They’re just a good defensive team,” he said. “There’s not one thing, they play collective defense. They help one another out. They’re a really good basketball team, so it’s not like one thing. They play their defense better than we play our offense.”
Once the Hokies got stops, they were able to attack the Blue Devils in transition.
“It’s hard to prepare for pace,” Seth Allen said. “We knew that they only had five or seven or eight guys, and playing against us you got to have more than that because we play really fast and we move the ball well.”
Allen, along with backcourt mate Justin Robinson, had a stellar game. He finished with 14 points and five assists, and was 6-of-8 from the field. Robinson had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists while shooting 5-of-11 from the field.
“We have really versatile guys,” Robinson said. “Whoever gets the rebound can bring it up (the court), so I think everybody being able to bring it up gives us a lot of options. So when we play fast, it’s hard to stop us.”
Ahmed Hill also had 17 points for Tech. Zach LeDay added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Chris Clarke had 13 points and six rebounds in just 16 minutes thanks to foul trouble.
As a team, the Hokies had just nine turnovers. Their assist-to-turnover ratio (18-9) was impressive, and easily outpaced Duke’s ratio of 8-11. The Blue Devils were forced to make one-on-one plays to score, rather than using ball movement. Sophomore guard Luke Kennard did a great job of that, finishing with 34 points, but he didn’t have much help from his teammates. Grayson Allen (16 ppg) missed the contest while serving an indefinite suspension.
Virginia Tech had struggled with slow starts in recent games, but that was obviously not the case on Saturday. The Blue Devils were outmatched from the opening tip.
“I think that we started better today than we had in the previous two games, not only offensively, I thought that we started better as far as our mentality defensively,” Buzz Williams said.” I thought there were gaps where the sustainability was better.”
Tech’s ability in the open court, and their willingness to share the basketball, led to another good shooting game. The Hokies were 32-of-58 (55.2%) from the field and 8-of-13 (61.5%) from three-point range.
It’s a great start to conference play, but now the Hokies will have to go on the road for two consecutive games against NC State and Florida State. Tech and the Wolfpack will play on Wednesday night in Raleigh at 9pm. The game will be televised by The ACC Network. Check your local listings.