It would be completely understandable for Duke fans to have Hunter Cattoor nightmares after the last 2 times the Blue Devils faced the ACC’s top sharpshooter. Cattoor in his lsat two games before last night was 12-19 from 3 against the Blue Devils. Virginia Tech Coach Mike Young mentioned in his post game that those two matchups came with 1-day preps – Saturday Night would be a 4-day prep. Young said he didnt like those as much and a convincing 81-65 victory from Duke may be the reason why.
The Blue Devils left very little doubt as to who the aggressor would be in this game. Feeding off of a raucous crowd, Duke put on a masterful performance – despite a few heads catching calls from the officials that kept Virginia Tech in the game. Duke used the first 7 minutes to jump out to a 19-5 lead off the strength of precision ball movement and 5 early points from freshman Dereck Lively and 3 early assists from Jeremy Roach. The Hokies would trim the lead to 6 off of a Rodney Rice 3-pointer at the 10:39 mark but the Blue Devils would push the margin at the half to 11 off of a Mark Mitchell layup with :33 seconds left that went in for Jeremy Roach’s 5th assist of the half.
An MJ Collins bucket just a minute into the second half would once again trim the Duke lead down to 8 but a quick 16-0 run spurred on by the Duke defense would effectively ice the game again for the Blue Devils who were stout the entire night defensively. Coach Mike Young remarked that, “They really got after us defensively. There’s just such pressure.” The Blue Devils limited hot shooting Hunter Cattoor to just 6 points on 2-4 shooting and no 3’s.
Offensively for the Blue Devils things just seemed to click. Whether it was Jeremy Roach’s 11 assists and 19 points, finding his teammates for open looks or his teammates trusting him to go it alone when the shot clock dwindled down. Roach looked like a different player. Despite Roach’s 19 points, the Blue Devils were balanced with every starter scoring in double-figures. What stood out for the Blue Devils was guard play. Tyrese Proctor added 4 assists to only 2 meaningless late turnovers and 4-7 from the field for 10 points. Freshman Dereck Lively II scored a career-high 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting with five dunks. He also added seven rebounds, three blocks and one steal in 22 minutes for a team-high plus/minus of +28.
Mark Mitchell was also a much more aggressive player Saturday night. In what Jon Scheyer called his best game of the season Mitchell scored 17 points on 6-8 shooting but also added 8 rebounds and no turnovers.
The Blue Devils once again did not turn the ball over significantly, won the rebounding battle 37-26 and had a distinct advantage in points in the paint (42-30).