Virginia Tech secured another huge ACC victory on Monday night as the Hokies rallied to score a 64-63 win over No. 5 Duke.
Chris Clarke tipped in a Nickeil Alexander-Walker missed jumper with a little over 4 seconds left to claim the win for the Hokies as Marvin Bagley III’s tip-in to win on the ensuing possession came too late. The Hokies ended this game on a 13-3 run as Duke didn’t score a field goal for the final 7:08 of the game. Alexander-Walker led four Hokies in double-figures with 17 points.
Now with ACC wins over Virginia, Duke and North Carolina, the Hokies (21-9, 10-7) have three really strong wins as they try to make a push for a better seed. Many bracketologists currently have Virginia Tech in the double-digit seed range, but this win could really help. Virginia Tech still has its ACC finale against Miami as well before the conference tournament begins next week. There’s still plenty of time of the Hokies to secure more quality wins and they’re going to be a dangerous team.
Duke (24-6, 12-5) had the lead for most of Monday’s game but they couldn’t close this one out in a hostile road environment. Senior guard Grayson Allen (22 points, 6-for-18 shooting) was aggressive as a scorer but he didn’t have his shot falling for a lot of the night. Playing in only his second game back from a knee injury, Bagley finished with 12 points and seven rebounds as it still looks like he’s getting his timing down.
It should also be noted that Duke used a new starting lineup on Monday as Trevon Duval came off the bench in favor of a bigger lineup that featured Javin DeLaurier at forward. With Wendell Carter, Bagley, DeLaurier, Gary Trent Jr. and Allen, Duke’s zone had even more size than usual as the group did a decent job of contesting Virginia Tech shots.
But Duke couldn’t get in any kind of rhythm offensively and Duval had a tough time getting into the game off the bench. The Blue Devils going without a field goal for that long to end a game is disturbing, especially when you consider how much talent this team has.
Duke’s cold perimeter shooting continued with an 8-for-28 effort from distance — including Trent going 1-for-7. After only going 2-for-18 from three in the win over Syracuse, Duke’s perimeter shooting will need to get better now that Bagley is back in the lineup.
Although the cold offensive stretch isn’t a good look from Duke, they continue to play better overall defense than they were earlier this season, so that’s a positive sign going forward.
The thing to watch for Duke right now is what kind of starting lineup they’ll choose to stick with and how that affects the overall gameplan. Duval coming off the bench didn’t seem to help the Blue Devil offense on Monday as they’re still working on a rotation now that Bagley is back.