Austin Rivers was all over the place against Virginia Tech.
For Duke the options were simple either win and play better of have to fight a 64-year-old man who learned to fight in college.
Wisely the Blue Devils took the easiest path by listening to their hall of fame coach and playing its best basketball in quite some time on its way to a convincing 75 to 60 victory and improved to 19-3 (6-1 ACC).
It wasn’t always pretty and Duke did still allowed Virginia Tech to shoot 44 percent from the floor, but the overall intensity and defensive effort was better.
The Blue Devils were lead by Austin Rivers who had perhaps his best overall game in a Duke uniform scoring 18 points, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out five assists and getting a steal. He played solid defense and was seemingly at the right place at the right time.
Ryan Kelly, who did not start in favor of Josh Hairston made the most of his time off the bench scoring 15 points and grabbed four rebounds.
Duke was able to take a 10-point lead into the half after the Hokies hit a buzzer beating three going into the break leaving some Duke fans thinking “oh no not again.” And it wasn’t the only time that thought crossed everyone’s mind.
At about the 10 minute mark duke was up by 22 points just as they were last weekend against St. John’s and about that time Virginia Tech made a mini run. Mike Krzyzewski immediately called a timeout to regroup his team and fortunately they were able to play stronger down the stretch and finish out the Huskies.
It was an important win for Duke who improves their ACC road record to 4-0.
After the St. John’s victory that Mike Krzyzewski basically characterized as a loss, the Blue Devils had four days to prepare for the Hokies and four days to listen to the media and the coaching staff grill them over their performance.
Krzyzewski even went as far to pull the social media privileges from his players perhaps to avoid the distraction or see the criticism. And apparently it isn’t going to be coming back the rest of the year as it was announced after the game.
Ryan Kelly said the social media hiatus will be in effect to better help the team focus on their “Duke Family.” That focus appeared clear against the Hokies.
Even when Duke started out slow and were facing an energized crowd they stood tough and took the Hokies best shot before going on a decisive run to start the second half that would prove to be too much for Virginia Tech to come back from.
Still it wasn’t a perfect performance. Duke got slopping in stretches and allowing a team to shoot that high a percentage isn’t going to continue to produce quality results moving forward. Some how the Blue Devils are going to have to do a better job in that area.
But for now Duke showed the ability to finish off a team they had on the ropes and fight off some adversity. it is on to take on Miami on Super Bowl Sunday before next week’s showdown with arch rival North Carolina.
For now its best to focus on one game at a time and continue to try and get better.
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