Virginia Tech Clashes With Duke In Saturday Night Primetime

Mike Young and Virginia Tech are back in action on Saturday night vs. Duke. (Jon Fleming)

Virginia Tech and Duke meet for the second time this season on Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Hokies and Blue Devils, who clashed on ESPN’s ‘Big Monday’ on Jan. 23 in Blacksburg, will face off in a rematch in Durham. Wes Durham and Debbie Antonelli have the call at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

In the first meeting, Mike Young & Co. did most of the little things right in their 78-75 win. While they didn’t quite stop Kyle Filipowski, who recorded 29 points and 10 rebounds, they defended everyone else well. Dariq Whitehead, who left the game early in the second half with a lower leg injury, and Tyrese Proctor were the only other scorers in double figures. 

On the flip side, Virginia Tech shot 57%, the first time this year Duke allowed an opponent to break 50%. Virginia, who shot at a 52% clip, is the only other team to have that kind of success against the Blue Devils. Even Miami, who blew Duke out by 22, shot below 50%.

In fact, Jon Scheyer’s club is 1-8 when allowing opponents to shoot 45% or better. When holding opponents below 44%, Duke is 19-0. And that’s without mentioning that the Blue Devils are 14-0 at home this season. 

You have to be able to score the ball against Duke. When allowing 69 or more points, the team is 3-8, and Virginia Tech was on fire offensively in the first outing. It helped that the Hokies took advantage of their outside looks – 10-of-19 (53%) from three. But the key was Grant Basile.

He was a matchup nightmare against Duke. He finished with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting, and he was crucial in Tech attacking the paint. Filipowski, Ryan Young and Dereck Lively II couldn’t corral him; Young described him as “aggressive” after the game.

Tech clicked so well against Duke in the first game that Justyn Mutts sat on the bench for over seven minutes, but the offense flowed as the ball moved. The Hokies finished with 16 assists to 11 turnovers.

Justyn Mutts and the Hokies have to take care of the ball at Duke. (Jon Fleming)

Speaking of giveaways, Tech is 5-9 when they commit 11 or more turnovers. The wins:

Jan. 23 vs. Duke, 11 TOs – 78-75
Feb. 18 vs. Pitt, 11 TOs – 79-72
Dec. 17 vs. Grambling St., 13 TOs – 74-48
Nov. 28 vs. Minnesota, 14 TOs – 67-57
Jan. 28 vs. Syracuse, 15 TOs – 85-70

Notice a theme? All five were at home. Tech’s struggled on the road this year and is 1-8. In the lone victory, at Notre Dame, the Hokies gave the ball away just five times. Here are the turnover numbers for games at different locations:

Home: 16 games, 12-4 record, 9.7 turnovers per game
Neutral: 3 games, 3-0 record, 8.3 turnovers per game
Away: 9 games, 1-8 record, 11.4 turnovers per game

Virginia Tech has to be efficient against Duke on Saturday night, and the most important factor might just be rebounding. The Blue Devils are fifth in the country in offensive rebound percentage at 37.4%. But in the first meeting, Tech held Duke to nine offensive boards out of 30 total (30%), which was the program’s third-lowest mark of the season to that point. It’s also Duke’s second-fewest total rebounds of the entire season.

A big opportunity awaits in Durham for the Hokies. A win wouldn’t save their NCAA tournament résumé, but it’s a chance to pick up a Quadrant 1 win before winding the regular season down against Florida State and Louisville.