Game Preview by @randydunson: Duke Blue Devils vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

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Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (24-3, 11-3] vs. Virginia Tech Hokies [10-17, 2-12]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 • 9:05 PM • ESPN2 • Blacksburg, VA • Cassell Coliseum

By Randy Dunson

1. Snapshot

Duke

Duke travels to Blacksburg, VA for a road contest against Virginia Tech Wednesday, February 25 at Cassell Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 9:05 PM with Bob Wischusen and LaPhonso Ellis calling the action for ESPN2. The Blue Devils enter the game ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke is 73-15 when ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll. Virginia Tech is unranked in both polls. Duke and Kansas are the only teams in the NCAA to rank in the top 10 of the AP Poll (No. 4), USA Today Coaches Poll (No. 5), Ratings Percentage Index (No. 4), and Strength of Schedule (No. 6). Duke is 11-2 away from Cameron Indoor Stadium and ranks first in the NCAA in road/neutral site RPI. The Blue Devils have wins at No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 2 Virginia and No. 6 Louisville as well as a neutral site win over No. 19 Michigan State.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech returns from a three-game road trip to a sold out Cassell Coliseum to face No. 4 Duke on Wednesday night. The game, scheduled for a 9:05 PM tip-off, will be televised by ESPN2. The Hokies enter the game 10-17 overall and 2-12 in ACC action. This season, the Hokies are shooting 44.6

percent from the field. Last season, Tech finished the season making 40.6 percent. The Hokies make, on average, two more field goals per game this season than last. Tech is also shooting better from three-point range this season. This is the only meeting between the two schools this season.

2. Last Time Out

Duke

In its last outing, Duke posted a 78-56 win over Clemson Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium as four Blue Devils scored in double figures. Quinn Cook matched a career-high with 27 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and a steal. Cook was 11-of-18 from the field, including 3-of-7 from three-point range. Justise Winslow recorded a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while also collecting a season-high four steals. He was 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line in the win. Tyus Jones delivered 11 points, nine assists, and four steals, while Grayson Allen had his second career double figure scoring game with 10 points. Duke shot 51.7 percent (30-of-58) from the field, marking the 13th time it has shot 50 percent or better from the field in a game. National Player of the Year candidate Jahlil Okafor missed the Clemson game with an ankle injury.

Game Notes

  • Duke started 24-3 during the 2012, 2007, 2003, and 2000 seasons (since 1996).
  • The win over Clemson extended the Devils winning streak to seven games.
  • This was the ninth blowout win this season (a win by 20 or more points). Over the past five seasons, Duke has been on the winning end of 65 blowout games.
  • The Blue Devils have won every game this season (8-0) after recording 30 or more field goals made.
  • Duke has won every game this season (11-0) when its field goal percentage has been 51.7 percent or better.
  • The Blue Devils have won 89 percent of the time this season (16-2) after committing 11 or fewer turnovers.
  • Duke has won every game this season (7-0) when opponents record 56 or fewer total points.
  • The Blue Devils have won every game this season (8-0) after holding an opponent to under 22.2 percent three-point percentage.
  • Duke set a season low for blocks (0).
  • The Blue Devils have recorded more free throws made than their opponents for the past six games.
  • This is the 14th game at home this season–Duke has a 22.7 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
  • Quinn Cook accounted for 34.6 percent of the team’s points.
    • He has led the team in scoring in eight out of 27 games this season.
    • This marks the 12th 20-point game of Cook’s career.
    • Cook has four straight double-digit point games.
    • He has had a career high with 27 points.
  • Justise Winslow accounted for 39.3 percent of the team’s rebounds.
    • Justise Winslow has led the team in rebounding in six out of 27 games this season.
    • This marks the second 20-point game of Winslow’s career.
    • He has eight straight double-digit point games.
    • Winslow recorded a double-double. It was the fourth of his career
  • Tyus Jones has five straight double-digit point games.

Virginia Tech

In its last outing, Virginia Tech faced off with NC State on Saturday, February 21 and lost in a blowout to the Wolfpack 69-53 in conference play. Christian Beyer got eight points and seven rebounds in the loss. Justin Bibbs also had a strong game, scoring a game-high 19 points and adding five rebounds. Trevor Lacey finished with 14 points and six assists for the Wolfpack. This makes three losses in a row for the Hokies.

Game Notes

  • Virginia Tech started 10-17 during the 2001 and 1997 seasons (since 1996).
  • They have lost 100 percent of the time this season (0-5) after recording 53 or fewer total points.
  • The Hokies have lost 83 percent of the time this season (2-10) after having a three-point percentage of 35.0 percent or worse.
  • When the opposition records 69 or more total points this season, Virginia Tech has lost 92 percent of the time (1-11).
  • When the opposition records 15 or more assists this season, Virginia Tech has lost 92 percent of the time (1-11).
  • When the opposition records five or more blocks this season, Virginia Tech has lost 91 percent of the time (1-10).
  • VT set a season low for free throws made (2).
  • Virginia Tech has recorded fewer rebounds than their opponents for the past five games.
  • JustinBibbs accounted for 35.8 percent of the team’s points.
    • Bibbs has led the team in scoring in six out of 27 games this season.
  • The top two rebounders (Christian Beyer and Justin Bibbs) accounted for 50.0 percent of the rebounds.
  • Christian Beyer has led the team in rebounding in five out of 27 games this season.
  • Adam Smith has nine straight double-digit point games.

3. Head-to-Head

This will be the 52nd meeting between the two schools, in a series that dates back to 1912. The Blue Devils lead the all-time series, 43-8. Tech has lost the last seven games in the series, most recently a 66-48 loss in Cameron Indoor Stadium exactly one year ago tomorrow night. Virginia Tech is 6-10 against Duke in home games, and 2-5 in games in Cassell Coliseum. Duke has been ranked in every game the Hokies and Blue Devils have played in ACC competition. Tomorrow night marks the third time in the last four seasons that the Hokies and Blue Devils have met on February 25.

In terms of a few key offensive and defensive statistical parameters, Duke has the edge in all of the categories, which give the Blue Devils a solid statistical edge head-to-head.

Duke 2014-15 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Virginia Tech
                     80.6 (+15.1) PPG (Scoring Margin) 65.3 (-2.9)
65.5 Opponents PPG 68.2
56.4 Effective FG% 51.5
49.8 FG% 44.6
42.9 Opponent FG% 42.7
38.7 3PT FG% 38.5
31.5 Opponent 3PT FG% 33.4
38.0 (+6.6) RPG (Rebound Margin) 30.0 (-7.0)
31.5 Opponent RPG 37.0
15.5 APG 12.1
7.1 SPG 4.6
11.3 (+1.1) Turnovers Per Game (Margin) 12.3 (.7)
12.4 Opponent TOPG 13.0
3.7 BPG 3.2


4. 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/.]

 VA Tech 4Fs

Duke has the edge over Virginia Tech in all factors. As to offensive rebounding, Duke’s edge is 36.8% vs. 26.2%. When it comes to getting to the free throw line, Duke’s edge is 42.3% vs. 33.2%. Duke is shooting the ball more efficiently (eFG%) at 56.4% vs. 51.5% and handling the ball better (16.8% vs. 18.9%).

5. Key Points to Consider

First, a few points regarding both teams’ overall profile at this point:

Duke

  • Two main scorers (Cook/Okafor); Jones/Winslow close behind
  • Makes the most of its possessions
  • Doesn’t send teams to the line often
  • Highly efficient attack

Virginia Tech

  • None

Now, a few key points to consider. These may often carry over to future games but keys specific to a current opponent will always be mentioned.

 

  • Rotation
    • Even though playing zone provides a modicum of intensity that may help from being tired, it will be important to utilize all eight players to maximize efficiency
  • Okafor
    • Hopefully he will be ready to go, if only for limited minutes, however Duke proved in the Clemson game that they can be both effective and efficient when he is unavailable

6. Endgame

Duke showed it could win without Jahlil Okafor but would certainly welcome back its top scorer and rebounder Wednesday night as they go on the road seeking an eighth consecutive victory overall and against Virginia Tech.

The Blue Devils were not hindered by Okafor’s absence while extending their winning streak Saturday. Quinn Cook scored 27 and Justise Winslow added 20 with 13 rebounds and 4 steals as Duke shot 51.7 percent, scored 42 points in the paint, and owned a 19-4 advantage in fast-break points.

“If we have (Okafor), if we don’t, we’ve got more than enough weapons to get the job done,” said fellow freshman Winslow, who has averaged 15.3 points and 9.1 boards over the last seven games. Cook (15.5 PPG), meanwhile, has averaged 23.0 points in the last four games while hitting 15 3-pointers.

With or without Okafor, Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams understands the difficulty that awaits his team. “There’s a litany of problems they pose for us, not just Jahlil,” Williams said. “We’ll have our hands full. Fuller than they’ve been all year long I anticipate.”

The Hokies’ only two league victories came at home, most recently beating Georgia Tech 65-63 on February 9. They have followed that victory with three straight road losses by an average of 20.3 points, scoring just 53.0 per game. Virginia Tech has dropped 15 straight against ranked opponents, and its only win over a top-10 foe in the past five years came against then-No. 1 Duke on February 26, 2011.

Perhaps Virginia Tech’s biggest strength is its depth. They have 11 players who average more than 11 MPG. Like Duke, the Hokies are led by freshmen. The Hokies’ five freshmen are averaging 35.5 points per game and the 898 points account for 50.9 percent of the team’s scoring. The group has made 65 of the 135 available starts and has 34 games of double figure scoring, including five games of 20 or more points. In ACC play, junior guard Adam Smith leads the Hokies in scoring, at 14.8 points per game. The next three players on the Tech scoring list are freshmen, led by guard Justin Bibbs at 13.4 points per game in ACC play.

Smith and Bibbs totaled 34 points on 14-of-26 shooting Saturday, but their teammates shot 8 for 22 in a 69-53 loss at North Carolina State. Bibbs has totaled 11 points while shooting 3 of 15 in the last two at home.

I feel it very unlikely that Virginia Tech can pull off a monumental upset. They have the manpower to tire out a Duke team that is only eight deep. However, Duke has become very adept at playing the 2-3 zone that spells them on the defensive end of the court. Even though this game is being played on the road in front of a hostile sold-out crowd, I see parallels between this and the Clemson game.

Though there may be runs on both sides, the Blue Devils win by 15, Okafor or not.

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