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Virginia Tech Loses to No. 7 Duke 77-67

Sean Pedulla 1 VT Duke 2024 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Virginia Tech had a major opportunity to boost their resume this evening with No. 7 Duke in town in a surefire Q1 victory opportunity, the last chance Tech will likely have this season to pick up a Q1 victory at home. Add in the fact that the Hokies had won three-straight games entering this season and that Tech had beaten Duke in six of their past seven games at Cassell Coliseum, and this game felt winnable even with the opponent.

However, the Blue Devils brought some of their best basketball of the season tonight while the Hokies were in waters that were too deep tonight.

Virginia Tech lost to No. 7 Duke 77-67 to fall to 13-8 on the season including 5-5 in ACC play while the Blue Devils improved to 16-4 on the season including 7-2 in ACC play.

Duke played some of their best basketball of the season this evening while the Hokies weren't as sharp in some areas. Tech's perimeter defense just wasn't as sharp as it needed to be with Duke getting a little too much space on three-point attempts and their talented backcourt taking advantage as they were 9-17 from three including 8-10 from Jeremy Roach, Tyrese Proctor, and Caleb Foster. Meanwhile, the Hokies missed some decent three-point attempts and didn't get as many good looks, shooting 6-22 from three-point range.

They also used a first half 12-0 run when down 13-9 to VT, driven in large part by their three-point shooting, to seize control of this game and never relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Tech struggled on the glass as Duke had a 38-20 rebounding advantage into 10-4 in offensive rebounds, which they turned into a 15-7 second chance points advantage. Tech was without Mekhi Long in this game and his absence seemed rather significant given how well the Blue Devils rebounded the basketball. One thing Tech did well was protect the basketball having only four turnovers compared to 14 for Duke. However, the Hokies didn't take advantage of that disparity with only an 11-7 advantage in points off turnovers.

Sean Pedulla didn't have his best night with some of that being due to less than ideal shot selection on his way to having 12 points on 4-15 shooting, plus six assists and three rebounds. Pedulla has hit some tough shots this year, but tonight wasn't one of those nights with the junior point guard paying the price this time for trying to do too much.

MJ Collins has found his offensive rhythm lately and was a major bright spot tonight with 17 points on 7-13 shooting including 3-6 from three-point range plus three assists, two rebounds, and one block. Collins was the main reason why the Hokies were in this game at halftime with 13 points in the opening 20 minutes of the game. He did go down late with an injury concern, but Mike Young confirmed after the game that it was only a cramp.

Hunter Cattoor had to work for everything he got, but quietly put up 15 points on 5-8 from the field including 2-4 from three-point range plus 3-3 from the free-throw line. Meanwhile, Tech's center duo had some ups and downs this evening with Lynn Kidd having 12 points and four rebounds while Mylyjael Poteat added four points and six assists in what was a quieter evening for them compared to what they did Saturday against Georgia Tech.

Robbie Beran dealt with some foul trouble in the second half on his way to finishing with seven points, three assists, and two rebounds. Tyler Nickel struggled to find his footing as he missed his lone shot attempt of the night, a three-pointer, and was held to only two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 16 minutes.

Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor shined for Duke with Roach having 16 points and four assists, and Proctor adding 12 points and four assists. Meanwhile, Kyle Filipowski had 14 points and eight rebounds despite dealing with significant foul trouble while backup big man Ryan Young had the best night of his season with 10 points and five rebounds. Caleb Foster had eight huge points early while Mark Mitchell had eight points and eight rebounds to go with six turnovers. Jared McCain nearly had a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.

There's no doubt that this feels like a missed opportunity for Virginia Tech to add another marquee win to their resume at home, and boost their metrics in the process. Duke also deserves plenty of credit for playing some of their best basketball of the season and showing why they are a legitimate national title contender this year.

Fortunately for Tech, this loss will do minimal damage to the Hokies' resume with their metrics only going down slightly and their strength of schedule also improving greatly. If Tech can go get a Q1 win at Miami this Saturday, it's fair to consider this week a net positive for VT's NCAA Tournament hopes.

However, it's still fair to feel like this was a significant missed opportunity for the Hokies even with Duke playing arguably their best game of the season to date.

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