Losing to NC State in the fashion that they did clearly left a bad taste in the mouths of the Blue Devils. At home against Virginia Tech Saturday night gave the Blue Devils a chance to respond and redeem. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team did just that. Being home cured all the ails for the young Blue Devils and a renewed intensity on both ends of the floor in the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke began the game on an 11-2 run, on the strength of hitting 5 of their first 6 three-point shots. Duke followed that up with a 21-14 run putting the game out of reach. In that first half the Blue Devils shot 53.3% from beyond the arc while holding the 3-happy Hokies to just 30%. Cassius Stanley led the Blue Devil attack going 5 of 7 for the game for 21 points. Stanley also added 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
The Blue Devils never looked back. The Blue Devils dominated the game’s physicality with a resounding edge in rebounding 49-31. Duke also had 9 blocked shots against the Hokies. The stat, in addition to rebound that may have been the most telling for the Blue Devils were assists. The Blue Devils had only 6 assists for the game against NC State – Duke had 10 in the first half against Virginia Tech.
The Blue Devils got a huge lift off the bench from Matthew Hurt, who scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. Duke got good minutes from junior guard Alex O’Connell who scored 4 points and had 2 highlight dunks in the first half.
Cassius Stanley led all scorers for Duke with the aforementioned 21 points, the Blue Devils also got double figure efforts from Vernon Carey Jr, who scored 16 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Tre Jones added 14 to go with his 4 assists.
The Blue Devils would take their foot off of the gas, choosing the play mostly in the half-court in the second half but still managed to win 88-64.
DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI
Opening Statement: “Our guys played really well tonight. They played hard, they played outstanding defense, they cared for the ball, rebounded, really pleased with the win.”
On what the team did better in the first half of this game compared to their first meeting: “We were prepared. We had preparation time. The last time we played, we went there after a 9:30 Tuesday game against Michigan State, coming back at 4:30 in the morning on Wednesday and traveling on Thursday. for them, you need preparation time and also at that time, we weren’t ready to play a five out. We’ve played now against five out, and Vernon (Carey Jr.)’s played really well, Javin (DeLaurier), and so we had preparation time, but we also were better and we played well.”
On what the key to unlocking consistent energy from the team is: “They’ve done it. We’re 23-4, I think we’ve done it almost every game. The key is them, and they’ve been great. They had a bad night and they didn’t have a bad night, so we’re 1-1 this week.”
On his 1000th win as a ranked team: “It’s hard to believe. I think I’ve coached over 1,300 games here, and almost 90% of them have been as a ranked team and to have 1,000 wins as a ranked team is kind of mind-boggling. We have crazy numbers. A few weeks ago we had our 500th win against ACC competition, and for me, because we don’t look back, it’s hard to believe that that’s happened and it’s taken a lot of years and a lot of really good players, but that’s something we’re very proud of, the consistent excellence I guess is what we would call it, hopefully we can continue to pursue that.”
On Vernon Carey Jr.’s passing ability: “He never played at the post before coming here, and so early on he wasn’t double-teamed, the first few games, and he put up good numbers, so he was learning to play the post and he was learning to play the post against one guy and now people are double and triple teaming him and that was difficult. There’s some changes in your offense but the main thing is he’s developed poise and he’s worked really hard, and Nate (James)’s worked really hard with him, so he continues to develop. What we tried to do tonight is not feed him from the wing all the time because when they do that, then they can baseline double and come from on top, but if you can feed him from on top, then it’s not the same double and he’s got a little bit more room, so that was our goal tonight.
On Matthew Hurt’s performance: “Matthew played great. Really the defense he and Wendell (Moore) had on (Landers) Nolley (II), he only had three points, he’s an outstanding player, usually he takes advantage of the matchup at the four, Wendell’s not a four, he’s an athlete, and Matt is more of a four, but he played like an athlete tonight and he moved his feet well and that was one of the keys to this game and he really pursued the ball well in rebounding, again I haven’t looked at all of the stats, he was going after it with two hands, that was one of his better games. He’s practiced that way and hopefully we can keep moving.”
On Matthew Hurt’s game improving when he rebounds well: “You’re right, will you send him a note on that? We’ve told him that. As a young player there’s a lot of things they’re learning, he’s developing, he played really well tonight and hopefully he can keep that going.”
On Justin Robinson’s influence on Vernon Carey’s game: “J Rob has done that for everybody, he’s the ultimate team guy. He’s in a graduate school now and after he finishes up, he’s a young man that I’d like to see stay around here in coaching in some way. I know if any of my guys got jobs or whatever, J Rob’s a guy that really understands the game and in addition to understanding the guy, he understands people. Every time J Rob talks in a practice, individually or collectively, people listen to him. He’s runs our scout team, so that’s every game you’re putting in a new offense, he knows everything. He’s really very, very smart and he’s been a great upperclassman for Vernon and everybody really.”
FRESHMAN GUARD CASSIUS STANLEY “This is the only way it could’ve been or we could’ve done it. I feel like anything else, it would’ve been good, but the way we won today was the way we needed to redeem ourselves. It was just one of those days where it’s just like, there’s not going to be another option. There’s not going to be a slow start. There’s not going to be [that] we miss our shots. It’s going to be we make our shots, we start out great, and that’s the only way. That’s the only way Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] wanted it to be, and that’s the only way we wanted it to be.”
On the upcoming matchup with Wake Forest: “It’s big, especially the way we laid an egg at N.C. State. We’ve got to redeem ourselves, especially in-state, just taking pride and trying to be the best team in North Carolina. It’s definitely going to be a big game for us, especially in such a hostile environment. It’s going to be a huge game.”
SOPHOMORE GUARD TRE JONES “It was very important to respond the way we did tonight, to come out hungry again, get back to playing like ourselves. The way we were sharing the ball, the intensity we had, the way we were moving and rotating on the defensive end, it was how we’ve been playing. We’ve got to continue that now and learn from the other night.”
“We knew that [Virginia Tech] had some shooters, some drivers. We knew they had different tendencies in different guys, so we were just trying to play those guys the way the coaches wanted us to and how we watched on film and then continue to play our defense and continue to come out with the energy and intensity that we wanted to have.”
When asked what was key tonight for Duke’s fast start: “I think just responding to last game [versus N.C. State], getting back to playing how we know we can play and how we were playing, and just trying to grow as a team, grow together, just knowing that the season is coming to the end now and we’ve got to start playing our best basketball. We’re just trying to play the same way every single night, especially after the other night, and continue to improve.”
“I don’t think we played angry. I think when you start playing angry you get away from yourself. I think just coming out with the right energy, right intensity, was huge for us, and just building off one another, making sure we’re all talking out there and communicating with each other and having the energy that we need.”
On Alex O’Connell’s first-half baseline drive and dunk: “That was nasty. I think it was good that he snuck it in there because the big guy was coming over. That just shows how athletic he is and how different he can be. He’s not just a shooter or a scorer. He’s always dunking [in practice], doing some between-the-legs or 360 or something. I see it a lot.”
JUNIOR GUARD JORDAN GOLDWIRE “We don’t want to get complacent. I think that’s, maybe, kind of what we did on Wednesday [against N.C. State]. We came in there complacent and not ready to play, so from this point out, we can’t take any game for granted. We’ve just got to come out and play hard. Going on the road, we’ve got Wake [Forest] and then we have Virginia, so those aren’t going to be easy games. We’ve got to come out and play with intensity.”
On what was different tonight compared to Wednesday night’s loss at N.C. State: “It was really just energy. We didn’t get any energy from anybody on Wednesday, so we knew we had to come out and play hard, together. Obviously, the crowd gives us a boost playing at home, but just getting back to playing how we were before.”
VIRGINIA TECH HEAD COACH MIKE YOUNG Opening Statement: “I just told my team the same thing I’ll tell you. They were, obviously, very ready to go. My team was ready to go. They played an awfully fine basketball game, and that’s about all that needs to be said, I think. We have no choice but to guard them the way we guarded them, and some of you may be scratching your heads, thinking that I made a mistake. I don’t know who in the world can play [Vernon] Carey one-on-one, and I’m trying to do it with the best guy of all time, but he’s not very big, so we’ve got to constrict the floor. It’s what we did in Blacksburg, and it worked out very well for us. Now, he’s seen a lot of different defensive looks and a lot of different traps from different angles, and I thought he did a marvelous job of getting over his right shoulder with his left hand. He’s a masterful passer; that part of his game has really come on. A good shooting team, I don’t think they’re a great shooting team, but, because of how we have to defend, they make eight first-half threes. They blitzed us early and often. They were better, obviously. They were that good, and I didn’t think we were awful in spurts, they were just flat out better than my team on this particular evening.”
When asked about Duke’s defense: “Just their length. They’re just so aggressive. And the ball pressure, which we’ll get to at some point here, the ball pressure speeds you up and speeds you into some uncomfortable situations. I thought that when they hit us in the mouth, you cannot handle the ball poorly and turn it over. The one-pass possessions, a bit of fool’s gold. It might look like a pretty good shot, but you’ve got to get it down. If you don’t get it down then here they come at you again, and that’s where the trouble begins.”
On Vernon Carey’s ability to stretch the floor: “What the hell am I gonna do here. We’ve seen quite a few games, here, recently of Duke. He’s that talented, to step out there and make that ball. That’s credit to him and the work that he’s put in. A very, very good college basketball player and he’ll do it for a long time.”