It took another solid performance from Austin Rivers to help Duke survive an upset scare at home.
No one said it would be an easy game but I’m not sure anyone thought Duke-Virginia Tech would be so exciting; especially if they watched the first half.
The Blue Devils needed another solid performance from Austin Rivers, and an overtime, to win in thrilling fashion to move to 25-4 (12-2 ACC). But I guess I should come to expect such games out of this Duke team.
I was expecting Duke to come out a little flat or tired following their big win on Thursday night against Florida State. So I was expecting a close and ugly game. I’m not certain I was expecting such an ugly game.
It looked like Duke might come out and take control of the game early but Virginia Tech kept coming back and refused to let the Blue Devils get a lead bigger than about six points. And in the first half they did it without their best scorer Erick Green.
The second half proved to be more of the same with a back and fourth game with several lead changes.
Green who had scored in double figures in every game was at serious risk of not matching that feat, but then the second half came and he found his stroke.
Green took advantage of his ability to put the ball on the floor and create and benefited from some bad switches by the Duke defense. He ended up with 16 points and has a shot of a potential game winner at the end of regulation.
Duke could not pull away and their failure to do so nearly cost them the game as Dorenzo Hudson hit a big three point shot late to give the Hokies a three-point lead. But Hudson wasn’t done as he hit another shot late to keep Virginia Tech close.
At the point of Hudson’s three it looked like the Blue Devils may fold, but they fought back and forced a tie before Green’s final shot and a follow up missed forcing the overtime.
The Blue Devils came out strong in the overtime and had just enough to hold on for the 70-65 win.
For Duke it was Rivers who again led the Blue Devils in scoring with 23 points but it may have been Miles Plumlee who once again provided some much needed toughness and solid rebounding.
Plumlee would finish with only five points but 15 rebounds. Two of his five points though came from the free throw line in overtime and he grabbed several of his key rebounds in the extra frame as well.
Rivers proved almost unguardable at times and had he not had some tired legs he may have finished on some of his more impressive moves that ended up falling short.
But for Duke to be considered a serious contender down the stretch they needed to find a way to win the game and that they did. Much like the Florida State game when it seemed the game was getting away from them someone made a big shot or got a big rebound.
Duke has two games remaining on their schedule, a road trip to Wake Forest and the season finale at home against North Carolina.
If the Blue Devils win the game in Winston Salem then the North Carolina game could very well end up being the game that determines the ACC Regular Season Champion.
So, yeah nothing new in the ACC these days.
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