The first 9 minutes were a struggling for Duke, even at home, against the Virginia Tech Hokies. In fact the Blue Devils turned it over 7 times in that time period. Keeping Virginia Tech within striking distance of the lead, Duke turnovers accounted for 11 of Virginia Techs 28 points at the half. Duke spent the next 11 minutes only turning the ball over 1 more time before the half ended and etched out some breathing room with an 8 point lead. Duke played primarily zone against the Hokies, who came in to the game the hottest shooting team in the ACC. Buzz Peterson admittedly expected and planned for Duke to zone the Hokies but did not expect it to be 100% of the game.
Being able to slow a hot Tech team down and put them in more half-court situations was a huge part of the Blue Devil game plan, and while the Hokies did miss a fair number of easy looks. The Hokies, especially in the first half did a decent job of breaking the zone but failed to capitalize. The zone seemed to put them in areas of the floor that made them uncomfortable. Duke also did a good job of chasing the Hokies off of he 3 point line and held Leading scorer Justin Robinson to 2 of 10 shooting, and 1-7 from beyond the arc.
Essentially Duke traded open looks from 3 for tough 2 point shots, it seemed to work and allowed Duke to go to work offensively.
Grayson Allen came out in the early moments of the first half as a mixed bag – turnovers, passing up some shots that seemed to be in his wheelhouse but burying some that seemed like yolo shots. The senior captain would become more consistent as the game went on. Duke needed a huge game from their perimeter with how Virginia Tech packed the paint and limited the clean looks that freshman Wendell Carter Jr. had. Allen responded with an offensive flourish, shooting 7-15 from beyond the arc and 9-17 overall. The senior ended with 25 points and 6 assists to lead Duke in scoring. Points in the paint were hard against Virginia Tech but freshman Wendell Carter Jr. was able to notch another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Carter shook off his 4 turnovers and benefited from a hot shooting Duke perimeter drawing some attention from the lane, he was also the beneficiary of several of Grayson Allen’s 6 assists. The other story for Duke is this game was Gary Trent Jr. who has been as hot a shooter as there is in the ACC shooting over 50% from 3 point range. Trent continued his hot shooting going 5-9 against Virginia Tech, scoring 19 points – Trent Jr also had 3 steals. A new wrinkle in the Duke offense in this game was using Trevon Duval, who returned to the starting lineup, on the wing – allowing him to penetrate from the side – for his part Duval went 3-10 from the field for 10 points, but helped draw the defense giving Duke room to operate.
Duke used a 27-10 run to effectively put this game away in the earl stages of the second half and unlike the last few efforts for the Blue Devils they did not let up on their way to a 74-52 win.