Virginia Tech brought plenty of momentum into last night's trip to Cameron Indoor after winning five of their last six including a shocking upset of now #1 Virginia. However, the Hokies came crashing back to earth in a game that got ugly in the second half.
Virginia Tech was blown out by #12 Duke 74-52
to fall to 18-8 on the season and 7-6 in ACC play. While the loss is a disappointing one, it shouldn't impact VT's NCAA Tournament hopes too much outside of the fact that the magnitude of the loss did hurt the Hokies' standing in some of the advanced metrics that are now included on a team's resume.
Rebounding and second chance opportunities were a big problem as VT was outrebounded 36-19 including 11-3 on the offensive glass. That led to an 18-2 disparity in second chance points that helped Duke open up a significant lead especially given how many of those second chance points were easy layups in the post.
Virginia Tech also didn't have a great game defending the perimeter with Duke shooting 15-33 from beyond the arc while the Hokies were held to 7-20 from three-point range. VT did well at protecting the ball in the first half with only 2 turnovers compared to 8 for Duke, but VT matched Duke's first half turnover mark with 8 second half turnovers that prevented them from really finding any rhythm.
VT kept it close throughout the first half and early in the second half but once the Blue Devils got the lead to double digits, VT just couldn't find a way to stop the snowballing effect that quickly turned this game was a competitive 8-point game to a 20+ point blowout for Duke.
Justin Bibbs was the one Hokie who had an all-around strong performance with 15 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and 3-4 shooting from three-point range. The senior guard has emerged as Virginia Tech's top option on the wing over Ahmed Hill and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and has found some shooting rhythm over the past few games.
Justin Robinson had his worst game of ACC play with only 5 points and 5 assists making this the first ACC game in which he had less than 10 points. The junior point guard was in foul trouble early with 2 first half fouls combined with an early second half foul that hurt his ability to find any rhythm and led to him landing on the bench in some important stretches in the first and second half.
Kerry Blackshear made some good plays, but had a fairly quiet night with 9 points and 4 rebounds while Chris Clarke had 7 points but only 2 rebounds, a surprisingly low number for VT's leading rebounder. Nickeil Alexander-Walker was solid defensively with 4 steals but only scored 6 points while PJ Horne was productive in 9 minutes of action with 6 points and 2 rebounds. Devin Wilson started and had 2 points and 3 assists while Ahmed Hill only had 2 points and Tyrie Jackson received a few minutes at the end of the game.
For Duke, Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. stepped up on the outside as the pair combined for 44 points with Allen having 25 and Trent having 19. Meanwhile, Wendell Carter Jr. posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds plus 2 blocks which helped make the difference.
For the Hokies, this was a crashing back to earth type of moment after being on the high of shocking the world and upsetting Virginia in Charlottesville. While you'd rather not have that happen via a 22-point loss, this should be a great way to get the Hokies refocused ahead of an important road game at a struggling Georgia Tech team that VT can't afford to lose to or take lightly even if the Yellow Jackets have lost 8 out of 9 and have just lost their starting point guard Jose Alvarado for the season.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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