Duke Survives Virginia Tech 75-73; Tre Jones with a Career High 22 points; 5-7 from 3

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Courtesy: Duke Athletics

The Duke Blue Devils have face been a team dealing with a multitude of injuries throughout the year. This was supposed to be the game that finally saw the Blue Devils at full strength but a surprise pre-game injury to Cam Reddish and an apparent tightening of a hamstring injury suffered a few games earlier by Jack White had the Blue Devils scrambling before the game. With ten minutes remaining before tip off, sophomore Alex O'Connell was told he'd get the nod as a starter.

It didn't take very long to see that the Virginia Hokies were serious. The Hokies hit 4 of their first 5 shots and 2 of their first 3 pointers. Buzz Williams had his team playing with energy, emotion and effort, they took an early lead - in a fact the Hokies led for all but 1:39 seconds in the first half. Paces by Ahmed Hill's 13 points in the first half the Hokies took a 4 point lead into the break. For the Blue Devils Tre Jones and Zion Williamson shouldered he scoring load in that first half scoring 12 and 11 points respectively. With Jones hitting on a surprising 4-7 and 3-4 rom beyond the arc.

Coach K's halftime adjustments centered on a flatness he saw in his team and ways to get their freshman forward R.J. Barrett some good looks. Barrett was only 1-6 from the floor in the first half but did have 7 assists. It was obvious that the energy for the Blue Devils came out with different energy in the second half. Barrett scored on his first opportunity at the rim triggering a run that saw the Blue Devils take a one point lead at the 17:53 mark. The Blue Devis also came out and defended much better in the second half against the Hokies who came in ranked 8th in 3 point shooting percentage. After shooting a hot 41.2 percent in the first half from beyond the arc, the Blue Devils clamped down defensively and held the Hokies to just 2-9 from beyond the arc - dead even with the Blue Devils from 3. Where the Blue Devils excelled was in overall shooting where they took an already hot 52% first half shooting and increased it to 58.6% in the second half. No team in this game ever got a lead of more than 8 points and just as the last game did for the Blue Devils - it came down to a singular play at the rim and a missed layup to vault the Blue Devils into the Elite 8 and a matchup against the Michigan State Spartans.

Zion Williamson led the Blue Devils in scoring with 23 points, going 11 of 14 from the floor. Williamson tied the NCAA’s freshman record with 57 total points in the first weekend of the tournament. In the absence of Cam Reddish, Tre Jones stepped up and scored a career high 22 points. Jones also dished 8 assists with 0 turnovers for the Devils in 40 minutes of play. Jones also had a career-best 5-of-7 from three-point range. His previous career high was 18 points against Florida State in the ACC Championship game. RJ Barrett finished with 18 points and a career high 11 assists, with 13 points coming in the second half. Barrett’s 11 assists are a Duke freshman record in the NCAA Tournament, surpassing nine assists, which happened on five previous occasions. Alex O'Connell, filling in for the injured Cam Reddish led the Blue Devils in rebounding with 7 (a career high).

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