Strong defensive play helped the Blue Devils down Virginia Tech 58-26 Wednesday night.
Strong defensive play helped the Blue Devils down Virginia Tech 58-26 Wednesday night.

Duke’s defense was too much for Virginia Tech to handle Wednesday night. The No. 4 Blue Devils (16-0, 6-0 in the ACC) held the Hokies (7-10, 1-5) to just 12 points in the first half and 26 points for the game. Duke’s full-court press was relentless throughout the game, forcing 26 Virginia Tech turnovers. The Blue Devils also finished the game with 19 steals and 23 points off of those Hokie giveaways.

Virginia Tech head coach Dennis Wolff accredited a lot of his team’s unraveling to Duke’s overwhelming defense.

“Obviously we need to play better on offense if we are going to be up against a team as good as this,” he said. “For the first 15 minutes we competed pretty good, but then it totally unraveled. The turnovers [led] to baskets…. Some of our young kids were shell-shocked.”

Wolff was keen to mention that despite his team’s offensive struggles, the Hokies held the Blue Devils to just 58 points in the game. Prior to the game, Duke had been averaging 80.4 points per contest.

“It’s not like I walked out there and thought our kids weren’t trying,” Wolff said. “We don’t really have a point guard, we are not really equipped at the moment.” Fully equipped or not, the Blue Devils amassed so many turnovers because of their relentless pressure both on- and off-ball.

“It takes us forever to get the ball over, then when we get the ball over, we really don’t have a lot of time to do anything against their zone,” Wolff said. “They are big at every position and we did a bad job getting the ball in the middle of it.”

Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie praised her team’s ability to disrupt Virginia Tech’s flow of play. Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones led the defensive efforts, recording seven and six steals, respectively.

“Our press work was good,” McCallie said. “We were very aggressive, we played different defenses and the team responded well. Defensively there were a lot of good moments and some really good execution. I thought we got a whole lot better defensively during the game. That is a definite highlight for us.”

While Duke is currently the only unbeaten team in Division I basketball, the team ranks fourth in the nation behind Baylor, Notre Dame and Connecticut. The Blue Devils travel to Storrs, Conn. to take on the Huskies, who lead the NCAA in both scoring offense and defense with 84.6 points and 45.9 points, respectively. Monday’s matchup will likely be a battle as Duke looks to stifle a high-scoring Connecticut team with its defense to maintain the one and only perfect record.