TURKEYS CLUBBED: Duke men's basketball wallops Virginia Tech at home in statement grudge match

Jeremy Roach protects the ball in Duke's Feb. 25 home win against Virginia Tech.
Jeremy Roach protects the ball in Duke's Feb. 25 home win against Virginia Tech.

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but the pain of the Blue Devils’ loss to the Hokies had by no means cooled off. That last-second defeat is still burned into the minds of the Duke faithful: and it turns out, the players it most affected, as well. 

The Blue Devils took on the Hokies — on their own turf, this time — and the end result could not have been more different. Duke, just 6.5-point favorites, dominated the matchup 81-65 behind an all-around performance. The Blue Devils’ starters led the charge with each topping double digits, and the team as a whole led the Hokies in nearly every stat.

“I thought it was one of the best starts and finishes that we've had,” head coach Jon Scheyer said after the game. “... Proud of the effort, proud of the win and taking care of home court.”

The lead was in hand less than two minutes into the contest, and while Duke never relinquished it, the game was not put away until well into the second half. The Blue Devils’ momentary 14-point lead in the first half was cut to seven, but quickly extended it back to 11 by the break and up to 25 in the second period. 

Though Duke’s 81 points are a mark of its much-improved offense, its defense was yet again stellar. After Hokie guard Hunter Cattoor burned the Blue Devils (21-8,12-6 in the ACC) for 12 points on four made threes in the first half of their last matchup, Duke quickly learned how to shut the sharpshooter down, and it went right back to that recipe Saturday night. Cattoor only attempted one shot through the first half, a layup that he made just over seven minutes in. The senior, who was averaging 10.9 points per game on 43.8% 3-point shooting entering the game, scored just six points. 

“Give Tyrese [Proctor] a lot of credit,” Scheyer said on defending Cattoor. “You have to be incredibly disciplined chasing him all over the court, and Cattoor had 12 threes against us the last two times we played them. We know very well how good he is, and [Proctor] won that challenge.”

Duke opened its first offensive possession strong, winning the opening tip and keeping the ball moving long enough for junior captain Jeremy Roach to find freshman center Dereck Lively II wide open in the paint for the uncontested slam that looked straight out of practice footage. Though Virginia Tech (16-13, 6-12) got the immediate response on a Sean Pedulla 3-pointer, the next six minutes were dominated by the Blue Devils. The home team went on a 17-2 run, firmly placing itself ahead of Virginia Tech in stark contrast to the two programs’ last meeting, when Duke fell behind early. 

“I was trying to tear that rim down,” said Lively on his early dunks to aid that run. “Just trying to bring some energy, just bring anything that I can because I know my teammates rely on me bringing my energy, bringing my enthusiasm.”

The early lead was not a result of a single dominant performance — instead, the Blue Devils championed a balanced offensive attack, with all eight regular rotation players scoring in the first half. They capitalized on the Hokies miscues, grabbing 37 rebounds to Virginia Tech’s 26. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Duke’s start, however, was its assist tally. The Blue Devils assisted 18 of their 30 buckets, a total largely contributed to by Roach, who tallied 19 for his first career double-double. Offensive flow has been a major focus for Duke since its two-game, 43-turnover stretch in early February — Saturday night was no different. The Blue Devils came out of the gate showcasing a balanced offense with clean ball movement. They only committed nine turnovers resulting in five points off giveaways, less than half their season average of 12.5.

“I give our players credit because they've embraced it,” Scheyer said on limiting turnovers. "You'll hear them in the huddle when there's a turnover or soft pass and they're calling each other out. That's when you really start to have something great, when there's accountability from within, and we have that right now."

Though he dominated the two teams’ first matchup with a career-high 29 points, freshman center Kyle Filipowski fell quiet in the first half, scoring just once on a fast-break dunk during Duke’s early run. After being inadvertently hit in the throat in the final seconds of the Jan. 23 contest, Filipowski yet again found himself on the receiving end of physical contact to the head and neck area by a Hokie, though this instance was the elbow of Grant Basile to Filipowski’s nose. Yet again, the foul on Virginia Tech was waved off and was this time called on Filipowski instead. The Blue Devils responded with a bang, ending the Hokies new offensive series and responding with a Roach triple, extending the lead to 17. 

Duke will remain in Cameron Indoor Stadium for Tuesday night, when it takes on N.C. State in its regular-season home finale. 

Rachael Kaplan profile
Rachael Kaplan | Sports Managing Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


Share and discuss “TURKEYS CLUBBED: Duke men's basketball wallops Virginia Tech at home in statement grudge match” on social media.