ACC Basketball: Duke 69, Virginia Tech 44
By Joedy McCreary
DURHAM ó It takes a lot to please Mike Krzyzewski, but there might be only one way for No. 5 Duke to top the dominance of its defense after halftime against Virginia Tech.
“Probably (allowing) single digits, he would have been really happy,” guard Jon Scheyer quipped.
Coach K will just have to settle for allowing 13 points in the second half of his team’s 69-44 rout of the Hokies on Sunday night.
Kyle Singler scored 19 points and keyed Duke’s decisive late burst. Gerald Henderson added 15 points, Nolan Smith had 13 and Jon Scheyer finished with 11 for the Blue Devils (12-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
“We want to have that be our staple ó we want to bring defense and rebounding to every game,” Singler said. “We know we can rebound the ball and play defense. If we do that, we’ll have a good enough chance to win as many games as we want to.”
They did it this time with a punishing defensive performance in the second half, when they held the Hokies to 6-for-18 shooting and outrebounded them 22-10. Duke also outscored Virginia Tech 30-9 over the final 17 minutes of the game.
“Our defense the last 171/2 minutes was outstanding ó we’re talking, switching, guys were rebounding,” said Krzyzewski, calling it his team’s best defensive half of the season.
Malcolm Delaney scored 12 points to lead Virginia Tech (9-5, 0-1). Leading scorer A.D. Vassallo was held to seven points ó 12 below his average ó and didn’t score on 0-of-2 shooting in the second half. Those two and Jeff Allen were a combined 2-for-8 in the final 20 minutes.
“No one’s stopping them from getting shots except the guys in the white shirts,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said.
The Hokies shot 36.7 percent and committed 18 turnovers in losing its eighth straight game against AP Top 25 teams dating back to an overtime victory two years ago at then-No. 4 North Carolina.
And, oh yeah, they were denied a second straight win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“In the back of your mind, you always know that the last time you played them here in your own house, they beat you,” Henderson said.
Singler finished 7-of-11 from the field and almost single-handedly made sure the Blue Devils wouldn’t need any Sean Dockery-like heroics to take care of the Hokies this time, scoring nine points and dishing out two nifty no-look passes that led to layups during the game-breaking run that put Duke up by 20 points to stay.
Dockery hit a 40-footer at the buzzer on Dec. 4, 2005 to give Duke a 77-75 victory at Cameron. In their latest meeting, Virginia Tech trailed by double figures most of the way before closing to 39-35 on Cheick Diakite’s layup with 171/2 minutes remaining.
“Going into the 16-minute (media) timeout, we had a chance to win,” Greenberg said. “And then we stunk it up.”
Not coincidentally, the Blue Devils took over.
Brian Zoubek put back his own miss to start Duke’s decisive run and Singler took over from there. He converted a three-point play, hit Scheyer with a no-look pass for a layup and later found Smith on a 3-on-1 break for an easy basket that put Duke up 62-42 with 71/2 minutes to play.
“He had some really nice passes in the last 10 minutes where you didn’t know who scored, but you knew (Duke) did,” Krzyzewski said.
Smith was just 4-of-12 from the field but didn’t appear to lose any quickness. He played with a pad protecting his left knee after he injured it four days earlier by knocking knees with a Loyola of Maryland player.
Offensive struggles were the theme throughout the game for the Hokies, who quickly fell behind 11-0 and were held to one field goal during the opening 91/2 minutes.