|Photo: Michael Thomas Shroyer, USA TODAY Sports|
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Virginia Tech entered Atlantic Coast Conference play with a sparkling record and several quality wins to its credit, but the Hokies hadn't faced a ranked foe all season.
That test came Saturday -- and they passed rather easily.
BOX SCORE: VIRGINIA TECH 89, DUKE 75
Justin Bibbs scored 18 points to lead Virginia Tech to an 89-75 upset of No. 5 Duke in the ACC opener for both teams.
Bibbs broke out of a season-long slump, hitting 6 of 9 from the field, including a season-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies (12-1, 1-0), who won their eighth straight game. Virginia Tech hasn't lost since squandering a 17-point, second-half lead in a 68-65 loss to Texas A&M on Nov. 25.
"Our confidence is sky high right now," Bibbs said. "I feel like we can play against anybody, with anybody.
Virginia Tech snapped a nine-game losing streak to Duke (12-2, 0-1), which played without preseason All-America Grayson Allen, who was suspended indefinitely by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski after tripping an Elon player on Dec. 21 -- the third such incident in Allen's career.
The Hokies dominated from start to finish, jumping out to a 47-31 halftime lead. The Blue Devils got as close to 52-41 in the second half after a 3-pointer by Luke Kennard with 15:29 remaining.
But Bibbs responded, scoring three straight baskets in a 7-0 run to push Virginia Tech's lead to 59-41. Duke got no closer.
"I don't think we're to the point that we've played 40 minutes," Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. "But I don't know that any coach would say in game 13, `Yeah, that's perfect.' I think we have a long way to go and the weight of this game is the same as the weight of our next game."
Ahmed Hill had 17 points for Virginia Tech, which shot 55.2 percent (32 of 58).
Kennard paced the Blue Devils with 34 points.
"I really feel like the two teams played like the way they've been playing. Virginia Tech has been playing really good basketball -- continuity, good eight-man rotation, feed off of one another," Krzyzewski said. "We played like we've been playing -- without continuity. We haven't played well since before exams, and that continued."
Duke: Allen might have helped the Blue Devils on the offensive end, but Duke needs to shore up its traditionally tough defense. The Blue Devils gave up season highs in points, shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage. The Hokies shot 61.5 percent (8 of 13) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Virginia Tech: Bibbs entered the game shooting just 36.8 percent (32 of 87). He had made just 1 of 13 in the Hokies' previous two games, including an outing in which he went scoreless (Charleston Southern) for the first time in his career. He had shot better than 50 percent in just three games all season, but he set season highs in field goals, 3-pointers and points against Duke.
NO WORD ON ALLEN'S STATUS
Allen made the trip to Blacksburg with his team, but sat on the bench in street clothes. Following the game, Krzyzewski did not reveal any more on Allen's status.
"Right now, I don't want to talk about Grayson," Krzyzewski said. "He was part of the loss today by not being there. Instead of tri-captains, we've eliminated him from being a captain of the team. Only Amile (Jefferson) and Matt (Jones) are doing that. It's unfortunate for any team to have interruptions. Sometimes you have no control of them, like an injury or sickness. Then sometimes something like this happens. We've had a lot of interruptions. We have to stop having interruptions."
The Hokies -- who haven't been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 since November 2010 -- have received votes in every poll this season, but hadn't cracked the Top 25. They should when the latest poll is released Monday.
Duke will look to rebound when it returns home to face Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
Virginia Tech travels to Raleigh, North Carolina for just its second true road game of the season when it takes on North Carolina State on Wednesday. The Hokies haven't won in Raleigh since 2011.
Virginia Tech knocks off No. 5 Duke in ACC opener
No. 5 Duke's ACC season is off to a rocky start.
The Blue Devils (12-2, 0-1) fell behind by double digits early and could never come back, falling on the road Saturday at surprising Virginia Tech 89-75, which ran its record to 12-1 (1-0 ACC). The Hokies put six players in double figures and took advantage of the Blue Devils time and again in transition.
Justin Bibbs broke out of a season-long slump, hitting six of nine from the field, including a season-high four three-pointers for the Hokies, who won their eighth consecutive game. Virginia Tech snapped a nine-game losing streak to Duke.
“Our confidence is sky high right now,” Bibbs said. “I feel like we can play against anybody, with anybody.”
Hokies fans closed out the game by chanting at Duke, "Over-rated!"
“I don’t think we’re to the point that we’ve played 40 minutes,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “But I don’t know that any coach would say in game 13, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect.’ I think we have a long way to go and the weight of this game is the same as the weight of our next game.”
The Blue Devils were playing for the first time since the suspension of star guard Grayson Allen, who will sit out indefinitely after an incident on Dec. 21 when he intentionally tripped Steven Santa Ana of Elon. It was the third such incident in less than a year for Allen.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said that Allen is no longer one of the Blue Devils' captains, but he did not provide any details on when Allen might return from suspension.
“Right now, I don’t want to talk about Grayson,” Krzyzewski said. “He was part of the loss today by not being there. Instead of tri-captains, we’ve eliminated him from being a captain of the team. Only Amile (Jefferson) and Matt (Jones) are doing that. It’s unfortunate for any team to have interruptions. Sometimes you have no control of them, like an injury or sickness. Then sometimes something like this happens. We’ve had a lot of interruptions. We have to stop having interruptions.”
Luke Kennard (20.4 ppg), who has been superb for Duke, led all scorers with 34 points.
“I really feel like the two teams played like the way they’ve been playing. Virginia Tech has been playing really good basketball — continuity, good eight-man rotation, feed off of one another,” Krzyzewski said. “We played like we’ve been playing — without continuity. We haven’t played well since before exams, and that continued.”
Duke: Allen — he preseason ACC player of the year selection, averages 16.0 points a game — might have helped the Blue Devils on the offensive end, but Duke needs to shore up its traditionally tough defense. The Blue Devils gave up season highs in points, shooting percentage and three-point shooting percentage. The Hokies shot 61.5% (8 of 13) from beyond the three-point arc.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies have received votes in every Associated Press poll this season, but hadn’t cracked The top 25. They most certainly will when the latest poll is released early next week.
Virginia Tech rolls Duke in ACC opener as Grayson Allen sits
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Just before the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team took hold of a 20-point lead over No. 5 Duke in the second half Saturday, images from opposite ends of the court at Cassell Coliseum told fans all they needed to know.
On one, Hokies senior guard Seth Allen gently tossed in a layup after a fast break that got maroon-and-orange-clad fans on their feet. On the other, Duke freshman Frank Jackson shrugged off forward Amile Jefferson and skulked toward the bench as Jefferson tried to offer some veteran advice.
Duke’s frustration was evident as the streaking Hokies steamrolled the Blue Devils, 89-75, in front of an announced crowd of 9,567 in both teams’ ACC opener. Duke’s leaders could only do so much in the absence of second-leading scorer Grayson Allen, who was indefinitely suspended Dec. 22, did not play Saturday and, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game, has been stripped of his captaincy.
“I really feel like the two teams played like they have been playing,” Krzyzewski said. “Virginia Tech has been playing really good basketball — continuity, good eight-man rotation, feed off one another . . . and we played like we’ve been playing. Without continuity.”
Virginia Tech (12-1) led from whistle to whistle against the perennial national-title contenders in notching its eighth consecutive win. It was the Hokies’ first victory over Duke (12-2) since February 2011 and was a moment of pride for Coach Buzz Williams’s team.
“A lot of us got under-recruited, so we get up for guys like that,” said senior forward Zach LeDay, who had 11 points and seven rebounds. “It’s really just us coming out, just wanting to prove that we’re better. Prove that we’re one of the top dogs in the ACC.”
The Hokies went about proving themselves by flaunting their depth and running the most consistent offense they’ve displayed all season. They had a 16-point cushion heading into intermission.
Before Saturday, Duke had trailed at halftime just once this season — by one point to Elon in the Blue Devils’ previous game, on Dec. 21. But the Hokies rolled after setting a fast pace to start and ended the game with six players in double-figure scoring. Junior guard Justin Bibbs led the team with 18 points and four three-pointers, and sophomore guard Ahmed Hill was right behind him with 17 points.
“Everybody does their part,” said Allen, who added 14 points. “It’s like six guys scoring 12 percent of the offense, 13 percent of the offense, 14 percent of the offense. . . . We got a lot of different pieces, and we jell well together because we’ve been playing together for so long.”
Virginia Tech shot 61.5 percent (8 for 13) from behind the three-point line and 55.2 percent from the field overall, more than enough to outmatch Duke’s spotty offense. Blue Devils sophomore guard Luke Kennard’s 34 points led all players, but his team shot 41.8 percent from the field, including 31.3 percent (5 for 16) on three-pointers.
Freshman forward Jayson Tatum was the only other Duke player in double figures (18 points) from a squad with five players averaging more than 10 points. The Blue Devils finished with eight assists, compared with 18 for the Hokies.
“I think that we’re a different team,” Williams said of his team’s growth from the 2015-16 season. “And I think, today, they were a different team without” Allen.