Duke Thumps Virginia Tech In Durham, 81-65

Justyn Mutts and the Hokies weren’t good enough vs. Duke on Saturday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

On Saturday night, Virginia Tech got out to a slow start and never led against Duke in its worst loss of the season, an 81-65 thumping in Durham.

While the Hokies (16-13, 6-12 ACC) missed six of their first seven shots, the Blue Devils (20-8, 11-6 ACC) stormed out to a 19-5 lead in the first seven minutes. Mike Young called a timeout at that point, after which Tech looked more comfortable, but it wasn’t enough to get back in the game.

“They were [more physical],” Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “There’s no other way to put it. Our team knows that, and I’ve seen that happen a time or two, I’ve been a part of it a time or two in here. That’s a credit to Duke’s players and their coaching staff.”

Duke, which entered the day ranked 31st in defensive efficiency, was lights out in the first half. Head coach Jon Scheyer described it as “disruptive.” The Hokies were 11-of-29 (38%) from the floor, 3-of-9 from behind the arc, and the right players were limited.

Grant Basile wasn’t effective in the first half due to Duke’s defense. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Grant Basile scored 24 points in Tech’s 78-75 win over Duke on Jan. 23. Hunter Cattoor had 15, all on 3-pointers (5-of-10). They were a combined 2-of-3 in the first half on Saturday, 7-of-14 for 21 points for the game. But it was the number of shots allowed that was impactful.

True freshman Tyrese Proctor locked up Cattoor for the Blue Devils. They made someone else beat them, and Virginia Tech didn’t have that player.

“I give the team credit,” Scheyer said of defending Cattoor. “They said it without me having to say anything about it. … The last few times we played, we lost, and he’s probably the biggest reason.

“He had five threes against us last game. That’s 15 points, but it also opens up so much more for their group. So his baskets are worth more, he’s one of those guys.”

With Hunter Cattoor locked down, Sean Pedulla helped make up for it. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Instead, it was Sean Pedulla, Justyn Mutts and Rodney Rice who led the charge. They all scored in double figures – 12, 11 and 11, respectively – but took a bunch of shots to do it, especially early. Basile came to life in the second half, finishing with 15 points. Yet, there was no consistent option.

Turnovers weren’t the issue. Rather, Duke ran Tech off the 3-point arc, defended ball screens well and altered shots. The Hokies couldn’t generate any offense, and they just looked out of sync.

“They really got after us defensively,” Young said. “I didn’t think we responded very well in some of those situations. But a lot of credit to Coach Scheyer and his team, he had them ready to go. They were sharp.”

At the same time, Tech’s offensive struggles carried over to the other end of the floor. Duke manipulated the defense and got to its spots. Mark Mitchell had a solid first half with 11 points (and finished with 17 on the night) while Jeremy Roach, Dereck Lively II and Tyrese Proctor got going after halftime.

Mike Young and the Hokies weren’t as effective on either end of the floor as they were in the meeting in Blacksburg. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Roach, who had 19 points and 10 assists for his first double-double of the year, was lethal. Tech contained him in the first meeting, allowing just six points, but he was clutch when needed in round two.

“He’s a difference-maker for us,” Scheyer said of Roach. “He’s been that way all year.”

Lively finished with 13 points while Proctor added 10. Kyle Filipowski, Duke’s star in the game in Blacksburg with 29 points, dealt with foul trouble and was limited to 10.

After Duke got up by 14 in the first half, Virginia Tech chipped away and cut the lead to six. But the Blue Devils pushed it back to 11 before intermission, 43-32. And after they traded buckets with the Hokies to open the second half, they put their foot on the gas pedal, ripping off a 16-0 run that extended the lead to 24, 61-37, and put the game out of reach.

There was a slimmer of hope for Tech as it scored six unanswered points in a three-minute span. Duke missed five consecutive field goals during that time. But Scheyer called timeout and rallied his troops; his group responded with an 11-3 run over the next four minutes, closing out the game.

Rebounding was a key factor, too. The Blue Devils, who rank sixth nationally in offensive rebound percentage (37.4%) and fifth in rebounding margin (8.4), were dominant on the glass. While it was a difference of three in Cassell Coliseum in January, 30-27, Duke was better by 11 this time around.

Rodney Rice hasn’t played much this season, but he helped in a big way on Saturday for the Hokies. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Early in the game, Rice provided a spark off the bench. In his third collegiate came after battling two separate injuries, he drained three 3-pointers and had two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“He’s really good,” Young said. “That was his third game as a college player, and trying to bring him into the fold, I thought he had a nice outing. Thought he had a couple of quick shots. I thought he got dotted up a couple of times defensively, but it’s great to have him on the floor. And every rep he gets is going to be beneficial for us as we move along.”

With the victory, the Blue Devils improved to 15-0 in Cameron Indoor Stadium this season. The Hokies have still only won once there in their history, a 69-67 overtime victory in 2007.

The road struggles this season continued for Virginia Tech. In 10 appearances, the Hokies are 1-9 with an average margin of defeat of seven points.

“That’s not good, obviously,” Young said. “You’ve got to be able to go on the road and win. You have to do it. In any league. And we have certainly had our struggles, and that will be a burden on me as we move along.”

Tech currently sits in 12th in the ACC and has two games remaining: at Louisville on Tuesday and vs. Florida State on Saturday.

Box Score: Link 

23 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. We peaked at the end of the year last year, we peaked at the beginning this year. A lot of reasons why. Nit picking here but MY really needs to “feel” the momentum better and call time out far sooner. The best teams out there you’ll notice call time out when the other team rallies ahead by only 4 or 6 points. We wait until we are 12 or more behind. That’s far too late to nip it and make a difference. Anyways…the fellas are good players, this just isn’t their year. Only way they rally from here in is to play selfless, tenacious, decisive basketball.

  2. Better play better defense or the last two regular games will also be losses. This team overall has certainly been disappointing. Coaches better recruit better players or the drum beat continues. We are a “vanilla” bb team on offense and defense.

  3. If you are not getting better you are getting worse. Just watch the transfer portal after the season. Babcock gets an F. What a shame.

  4. Duke is playing very well right now, we were beaten by a hot team. Once again, the defense failed on the outside switches, losing the big guys going to the basket. Our opponents are all shoving that down our throats right now.

    1. Shows coaches and players cannot adjust defensively and bottom line our interior defense from our centers has all been poor.. realizing how much we missed Aluma’s defense. At this pace give Rice extended minutes as we determine who our PG will be next year

  5. Sad how many of us looked forward to basketball season, when the football team was 3-7. Sigh…

    1. Yeah, was kind of puzzled by that at the time, but many seemed to think the tide had changed after one season.

  6. The lack of intensity to start the game was disappointing. Props to the team for battling back in the first half. Same inconsistencies that have played this team all season were on display last night. Lazy passes, missed layups/close range shots, poor shot selection. Winning at Cameron is a tough hill to climb. When VT is on they are one of the best teams in the ACC. Just seems like that team is only on display 20-30 minutes a game (and sometimes much less than that).

    Really impressed with Rice. Being able to step in and perform on that stage with his limited reps speaks volumes about his potential.

    1. I agree many games we come out flat or at halftime flat I think coach young needs to get this team ready to play from the opening tip off

    2. This season would have been so much better if Rice could have played from the beginning of the season. But it was just an adversity year which happens to a lot of teams. I think next year will be more like what we thought this year would be. The best is yet to come.

    3. Lack of focus, intensity or just plain “want to” and that seems to bring on as you said, “Lazy passes, missed layups/close range shots, poor shot selection” either sporadically, but often if they are in the game competitively at the worst points in the game.

      It has really been disappointing to watch.

    1. Especially when our game plan seemed to be to go inside all night. Not a basketball guru by any means but that seems odd to me.

      1. Have to admit, not Coach and staff’s best job this season. This is really just a mediocre team and has been disappointing from an expectations standpoint. We had an incredible run last year but we weren’t all that before that run and not really doing anything since the run. Wouldn’t trade the ACC Tournament win for much but we have to ask at some point, who are we really?

      2. Duke was doing a good job guarding our outside shooters. It appears we tried to go inside to free-up some space for 3-pointers. It was somewhat successful, but 3 shots were not open for most of the night.

      1. CMY doesn’t believe in it. Man to Man is his D, even if he doesn’t have the players for it. He needs a defensive assistant coach like Frazier was.

    2. Earlier in the year, Duke had lost AGAIN to, in the mind of a Dookie, ‘lowly Virginia Tech’. So, honestly, did anybody expect an outcome different than a 16 (or more) point defeat?

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