Virginia Tech loses another ACC heartbreaker, this time to Duke

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Virginia Tech isn’t on the bubble this season, but they certainly aren’t that far away.

After falling to Duke 70-65 in overtime on Saturday afternoon, the Hokies fell to 4-10 in ACC play. But of those 10 losses, seven of them are by five points or less, including a number of heartbreakers. I think its safe to say that Saturday falls into that category, particularly for point guard Erick Green.

After getting beaten fairly handily by the Blue Devils at home three weeks, the Hokies went into Cameron Indoor and took every punch that Duke had to throw while landing a couple of their own, eventually taking a 58-55 lead with just over a minute left in the game thanks to a banked in three from Dorenzo Hudson. After a Mason Plumlee lay-in cut the lead to one, Green turned the ball over before fouling Austin Rivers and sending him to the free throw line.

Rivers hit one of two, giving Tech a chance to win the game on their final possession, but Green missed a jumper with three seconds left and Cadarian Raines missed a follow.

Duke took an early lead in the extra period, but Hudson had his toe on the three-point line on what looked to be a game-tying three. After Duke pushed their lead back to three on their next possession, Green had a layup bounce off the rim with nine seconds left.

So close, but yet, so far.

It could be the motto for Virginia Tech this season and, frankly, for the last five years under Seth Greenberg. There is a reason they have become synonymous with the bubble. I’m not sure there is a team in the country that has been as consistently competitive with as little success overall as this Virginia Tech program. It makes you wonder: what if JT Thompson and Allan Chaney were allowed to play this season? What if the players that were actually on the roster had been healthy the entire year?

And while its promising to see this group competing, it has to be frustrating for the good folks in Blackburg, VA.

Before I sign off here, it must be noted that Duke’s win over Virginia Tech on the road was much more impressive than their win over the Hokies at home. That’s not unique, either. Duke was in control throughout the game at Florida State but lost to them at home. They lost to Miami at home. They needed a 20 point come back against NC State at home. The only time they’ve been tested on the road in ACC play they came back from 10 down in the final two and a half minutes to beat UNC. (You remember that game, right?)

I wonder if that lack of a home court advantage has anything to do with this?

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady ‘awake, alert’ after getting stretchered off court

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Wichita State big man Anton Grady was stretchered off of the floor in the second half of a loss to Alabama after a nasty collision with Dazon Ingram.

The video can be seen above. There was nothing malicious about the way that Grady was injured. When he turned to run up the floor after missing a shot in the lane, he went face first into Ingram’s shoulder. He neck bent in an awkward directions and, after stumbling a few steps, he laid motionless on the floor.

It took 10 minutes for the training staff to strap Grady to a backboard and wheel him out of the arena.

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A Wichita State spokesman told NBCSports.com that Grady was taken to a local trauma center for evaluation and that he is “awake, alert and is answering questions appropriately”.

We will have more updates as they come available.

From a basketball perspective, the No. 20 Shockers lost their second game in a row and are now 2-3 on the season.

While for some the Shockers’ résumé is up for questioning following losses to USC and Alabama, two teams projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the team’s health is the biggest concern.

Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the season began, and an ankle injury limited him in a loss at Tulsa earlier this month. He won’t play again until at least Dec. 5th. and who knows when he’ll be back to full strength. The same can be said for back up point guard and freshman Landry Shamet, who underwent surgery to address a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Their injuries have led to even more being asked of senior guard Ron Baker, and the loss of Grady for any significant amount of time certainly isn’t going to help matters..

These early-season losses won’t help Wichita State when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but it’s important to make note of the circumstances surrounding those defeats. To be shorthanded, with one of the absent players ranking among the nation’s best point guards, has an impact that has to be accounted for when evaluating Wichita State. The Shockers will add Conner Frankamp in mid-December, which will help them on the perimeter.

But with their rotation currently being in flux, it’s tough to make any definitive statements on what Wichita State will have to do in order to make another trip to the NCAA tournament. At this point Gregg Marshall and his staff will look for other contributors, one of whom being Markis McDuffie (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Alabama), to emerge and show themselves capable of picking up the slack.