Game Preview by @RandyDunson – Duke Blue Devils vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

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#5/5 Duke Blue Devils [12-1, 0-0] vs. #UR Virginia Tech Hokies [11-1, 0-0]

December 31, 2016 • 12:00 PM ET • Blacksburg, VA • Cassell Coliseum

Media: ESPN2, Local Radio, Watch ESPN app

By Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson]

Team Overviews

Duke

No. 5/5 Duke will open ACC play on the road for the fourth time in six years when it visits a one-loss Virginia Tech team on Saturday. The Blue Devils have won the third-most games (222) and are tied for the third-best winning percentage (.822) in the nation this decade. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski owns an ACC-record 168 conference road wins and an ACC-record 445 league victories overall.

Notables:

  • Led by Luke Kennard (20.4), Duke has five players averaging double figures and ranks third nationally in offensive efficiency at an average of 119.4 points per 100 possessions. He ranks fourth in the ACC in scoring. Over Duke’s last four games, he is shooting .564 from the floor, .571 from the arc and .889 from the line.
  • Kennard’s active streak of 16 consecutive games with a three-point field goal is the longest in the ACC.
  • Amile Jefferson leads the ACC in both rebounds (10.8) and field goal percentage (.648). He is averaging 13.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in Duke’s last four games.
  • Jayson Tatum has been nearly automatic from the free throw line, making 23-of-25 (.920) on the year. He has scored in double figures in all five games since returning from injury.
  • Coming off of a career-high five steals against Elon, Matt Jones is tied for second in the ACC in that category (2.1). He has had at least one steal in 10 of 13 games this season.

Probable Starters

Guard – Freshman Frank Jackson

Guard – Junior Matt Jones

Guard –Sophomore Luke Kennard

Forward – Sophomore Chase Jeter

Forward – Grad Student Amile Jefferson


Virginia Tech

The Hokies enter ACC action 11-1 on the season. Tech defeated UMBC, 87-70, in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. Chris Clarke recorded his second consecutive double-double with a career-high 22 points, to go with 12 rebounds. Ahmed Hill scored 18 points, as five Hokies scored in double figures.

Duke enters the game 12-1 on the season and is ranked fifth in both major polls. The Blue Devils defeated Elon, 72-61, in Greensboro on December 21 in their last contest. Luke Kennard leads the Blue Devils in scoring, averaging 20.4 points per game. Duke is coached by Mike Krzyzewski, in his 37th season with the Blue Devils.

Notables:

  • The Hokies trail the all-time series, 45-8
  • This is the ACC opener for both teams
  • The Hokies finished the nonconference schedule 11-1
  • The Hokies defeated UMBC, 87-70, in Cassell Coliseum Wednesday night
  • Chris Clarke recorded a double-double with a career-high 22 points, plus 12 rebounds
  • Ahmed Hill added 18 points, as five Tech players scored in double figures
  • The Hokies have won 13 consecutive home games, dating back to February and 18-3 in their last 21 games

Probable Starters

Guard – Junior Justin Bibbs

Guard – Redshirt Sophomore Ahmed Hill

Guard – Sophomore Justin Robinson

Guard/Forward – Sophomore Chris Clarke

Forward – Freshman Khadim Sy

Last Time Out

Duke

As a Team

  • The Blue Devils moved to 19-5 when facing Elon following Wednesday’s result.
  • Duke used the starting lineup of Jayson Tatum, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, Matt Jones, and Amile Jefferson for the second time this season and owns a 2-0 record with those five players on the floor to start the game.
  • The Blue Devils improved to 88-26 all-time when competing as the fifth-ranked team in the nation.
  • Duke’s record in non-conference, neutral site games moved to 5-1 this season.
  • Duke opened the season 12-1 or better for the second time in three years and the third time in five years.
  • Wednesday’s meeting marked the first time the two teams met in Greensboro since Dec. 31, 2013, when the Blue Devils picked up an 86-48 victory.

Blue Devils on the Glass

  • Graduate student Amile Jefferson collected seven boards, bringing his career total to 791, good for the 18th-most rebounds on Duke’s all-time career list.
  • Duke held Elon to just six second-chance points, tied for the third-fewest of the season. Teams are averaging just 7.4 second-chance points per game this season.

Duke’s Offensive Output

  • Sophomore Luke Kennard connected on 7-of-17 (.412) from the field and 2-of-4 (.500) from beyond the arc, his fifth straight game with at least two made three-pointers. Kennard is shooting 16-of-30 (.533) from three-point range over the team’s last five games.
  • Kennard’s 21 points led the Blue Devils, marking the sixth game, this season he paced Duke’s scoring efforts. Duke is 5-1 this year when he leads the team in scoring. Kennard also scored 20+ points for the seventh time this season and the 14th time in his career, with Duke owning a 7-1 record this season in such games.
  • Jefferson made a career-best nine free-throws, shooting 9-of-11 (.818) from the charity stripe.
  • The Blue Devils scored 28 points in the paint against Elon, bringing their season total to 468 points scored in the lane. Forty-three percent of Duke’s points have come in the paint this season.
  • The Blue Devils committed just four turnovers, the third game this season Duke turned the ball over 10-or-fewer times and the first time the Blue Devils committed fewer than five turnovers.

Duke on the Defensive End

  • Duke forced Elon into committing 17 turnovers, the team’s 11th game forcing an opponent into at least 10 turnovers. The Blue Devils are 10-1 in such contests.
  • The Blue Devils converted Elon’s 17 turnovers into 24 points, Duke’s fourth-straight game with double-digit points off opponent turnovers, and matching a season high.
  • Senior Matt Jones recorded five steals, which is a career high.
  • Freshman Jayson Tatum blocked a career-high four shots.

Notables:

  • NA

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech closed out the non-conference portion of the 2016-17 schedule with an 87-70 victory over UMBC in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night.

Tech, now 11-1 on the season, got a career-high 22 points from Chris Clarke en route to his second consecutive double-double, third if you count his triple-double from the previous game. He finished with 12 rebounds, two steals, and two assists in the victory. The Retrievers fall to 9-4 overall, as they head into their America East Conference schedule this weekend.

Though the Hokies never trailed in the contest, the game was close throughout the opening 10 minutes. Tech closed the first stanza with a three-pointer from Seth Allen with 25 seconds remaining in the half to give the Hokies their largest lead of the first half and a 40-27 lead into the intermission.

UMBC held the game in check in the opening minutes of the second half, but Tech took an 82-55 lead with 6:23 remaining on a lay-up by Clarke. UMBC was able to cut that lead to 14 points in the final two minutes, but could get no closer and the Hokies took the win, 87-70.

“I’m nervous before every game, maybe that’s the coach in me,” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. “I think UMBC is incredibly well-coached, they’re always going to have four or five guys on the floor that can score. I think they put stress on you from the beginning.”

Tech placed five players in double figures, led by Clarke’s 22-point performance. Ahmed Hill added 18 points and Allen came off the bench to add 17 points. Zach LeDay scored 14 points and Justin Robinson scored 12 points, all coming from three-point range. His four three-pointers set a new career-high for the guard.

Tech out rebounded the Retrievers, 44-39, and held UMBC to just 36.2 percent shooting from the field, including 25 percent from three-point range. The Hokies’ bench outscored UMBC’s bench, 33-21.

Notables:

  • NA

Head-to-Head

The Blue Devils lead the series, 45-8. Duke has won the last nine meetings, most recently an 82-55 win in Durham last season. Tech is 2-6 against the Blue Devils in Cassell Coliseum.

Statistics

[National ranking in parentheses.]
Duke 2015-16 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Virginia Tech
23.7 (4) PPG (Scoring Margin) 16.3 (26)
61.8 (22) Opponents PPG 67.4 (74)
54.9 (40) Effective FG% 56.6 (16)
48.3 (33) FG% 49.0 (21)
39.4 (68) Opponent FG% 40.5 (64)
35.5 (145) 3PT FG% 39.3 (36)
28.3 (9) Opponent 3PT FG% 30.3 (44)
7.3 (28) RPG (Rebound Margin) 3.5 (109)
32.5 (43) Opponent RPG 34.2 (93)
74.1 (63) FT% 71.8 (112)
13.7 (152) APG 16.9 (29)
6.2 SPG (%) 5.9
3.7 (33) Turnovers Per Game (Margin) 1.9 (86)
14.8 (81) Opponent TOPG 13.8 (162)
4.8 (52) BPG 3.2 (177)
16.8 (40) Fouls Per Game 16.2 (27)

Four Factors to Winning

[If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here, https://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.]

Duke

eFG& TO% OR% FTRate
54.8 15.6 33.7 40.7

Virginia Tech

eFG& TO% OR% FTRate
56.6 16.3 27.2 38.9

Summary

The Duke Blue Devils have gotten off to a great start this year, as they are 12-1 and have won their last 10 games in a row, but they have played poorly of late. They come in off an 11 point win over Elon, but they were 26 point favorites in that game, while in the game before that, they were 28 point home favorites vs. Tennessee State and they won that game by just 10.

They better fix this as they are now into ACC play. Duke shot just 36.5% vs. Elon, including just 25% from long range and those are not numbers that we have been used to seeing from Duke over the years. This team is always a good shooting team and they have been a good one this year overall, but struggled vs. Elon. Leading the attack was Luke Kennard, who had 21 points, while 2nd was Jayson Tatum with 18 and 3rd Amile Jefferson with 13. Kennard is the team’s leading scorer at 20.4 PPG, while Grayson Allen is 2nd at 16.0 PPG, but he is out indefinitely due to suspension. They will need him back on the court the deeper they get into ACC play and is one of the better players in the league.

Duke checks in at 31st in the nation in scoring, putting up 83.5 PPG, while also ranking 39th in FG% (48.3%), 162nd in 3-point shooting (35.5%) and 57th in free throw shooting (74.1%). At the defensive end of the floor they have been solid as they come in ranked 22nd in points allowed, giving up 61.8 PPG, while also ranking 53rd in defensive FG% (39.4%) and 11th in 3-point defense (28.3%).

The Virginia Tech Hokies are off to a nice 11-1 start and while they have been playing cupcakes of late, they also own a road win over Michigan, a home win over Ole Miss and neutral site wins over Nebraska and New Mexico. Now it gets real for them as they have entered ACC play and will start off with one of the top teams in the nation.

This game will tell a lot about just how good the Hokies are. They come in off an 87-70 win over MD Baltimore County, which was their 7th win in a row after their lone loss, which was a 68-65 loss at the Hands of Texas A&M. Leading the attack against MDBC was Chris Clark, who had 22 points, while 2nd was Ahmed Hill with 18 and 3rd was Seth Allen, with 17. They had five players put up at least 12 points in this game, while the rest of the team had a total of four points. The Hokies go about eight deep, with all eight averaging at least 6.1 PPG and five of them putting up at least 10.8 PPG. Leading the team in scoring so far has been Zach LeDay at 16.7 PPG, while 2nd is Ahmed Hill at 14.9 PPG and 3rd is Justin Robinson at 11.2 PPG.

The Hokies enter this game ranked 29th in the nation in scoring, putting up 83.8 PPG, while also ranking 25th in FG% (49.0%), 48th in 3-point shooting (39.3%) and 107th in free throw shooting (71.8%). At the defensive end of the floor they have been solid as they come in ranked 91st in points allowed, giving up 67.4 PPG, while also ranking 83rd in defensive FG% (40.5%) and 55th in 3-point defense (30.3%).

Notables:

  • NA

Endgame

Duke will be Virginia Tech’s toughest opponent to date and it begins a stretch of 5 games that will find the Hokies underdogs. Duke has made a habit of coming off of lay-offs slow so there is an opportunity for Tech to make some noise and catch the Blue Devils sleeping. Duke will need to further integrate it’s new pieces as well as contend with the loss of Grayson Allen for the foreseeable future. Duke has the more talented team but are they as together as the Virginia Tech Hokies? Is Duke a more cohesive unit? That may very well be the difference maker.

The Blue Devils are a strong team once again and they are off to a 12-1 start, but the Hokies are no slouch, as their 11-1 record would indicate. Still, the Blue Devils are the better team and should win this one rather easily. Both teams have been high scoring on offense and both have been solid on defense, but still the Blue Devils have a bit more at both ends of the court and will prevail 70-65.