A year ago, the Blue Devils got all they could handle from the Hokies and scrapped out a 91-86 overtime victory.
The game was not nearly as close Saturday.
No. 14 Duke used eight first-half 3-pointers—seven of them in the game's first 7:04—to jump out to a 27-point halftime lead before running away with an 82-58 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. With both teams entering the contest 2-0 in ACC play, a game that had the potential to be a tight affair was anything but.
"The first half was sensational, not just offensively, but defensively," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "When you start out hitting those threes like that, that can knock you back. They’re not playing horrible defense, we just knocked down everything."
The Blue Devils (14-2, 3-0 in the ACC) got hot in a hurry as freshman Brandon Ingram drilled back-to-back 3-pointers on Duke's first two trips downcourt. Then it was sophomore Grayson Allen's turn, as the 6-foot-4 guard connected on two more triples to put Duke ahead 12-4 in the blink of an eye.
From there, the Blue Devils continued to pile it on, using the threat of the long ball to break down the Hokie defense and get to the foul line. By the time Duke scored its first two-point basket of the game on a Marshall Plumlee dunk, the Blue Devils held a 15-point lead and appeared well on their way to victory. Along with the fast start by Duke's leading scorers, guards Matt Jones and Luke Kennard hit a triple apiece and pushed the Blue Devil lead to 50-23 at the half.
But as effective as Duke's long-range shooting was in the first half, the team's leading scorer rarely attempted a shot longer than three feet from the rim. Plumlee followed up his career-high 18 points in Wednesday's win at Wake Forest with a new career-best 21 Saturday on 6-of-7 shooting, and also grabbed 10 rebounds for his fourth career double-double. The graduate student torched the Hokies' 2-3 zone defense by hanging around the baseline and finishing with authority on dishes by Blue Devils driving to the hoop, and also went 9-of-10 at the charity stripe.
“I’m so proud of him," Allen said. "He’s like my big brother and I’m a little brother to him. When I see him do stuff like this, it’s amazing for me to see just because he’s a hard worker. He’s doing a great job of just getting lost when his guy comes off to help and the guards are doing a better job of finding him and seeing that pass."
Duke played perhaps its best defensive half of the season as the team forced Virginia Tech (10-6, 2-1) into eight turnovers and just 28 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes. The Blue Devils held the Hokies' leading scorers Zach LeDay and Seth Allen to 21 points for the afternoon, with the former not hitting his first field goal of the game until nearly five minutes had passed in the second half. Allen managed just three points on the afternoon.
Plumlee and Ingram were the catalysts for the team defensively as the duo combined for eight blocks in the game.
Ingram's length and versatility proved to be too much for the Hokies to handle on both ends of the floor. At 6-foot-9, the freshman's shot proved almost impossible to contest and by working into open spots in the Hokies' defense, the Kinston, N.C., native capitalized on easy looks early in the contest. After hitting three first-half 3-pointers, the swingman scored four points in the second half and finished the game with 16, as did Allen.
"We’re sharing the ball, that’s the beautiful thing to see," Ingram said. "Marshall’s playing a whole lot better, Luke is playing better and everyone’s coming in with a mindset that we have to score, defend and just win the game."
Although four consecutive buckets by LeDay helped the Hokies cut the Blue Devil lead to 21 early in the second half, Virginia Tech failed to get enough stops defensively to mount any kind of late comeback.
With its conference home opener under its belt, Duke heads back on the road Wednesday to face Clemson.
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