Virginia Tech's Erick Green is finding it harder and harder to hide his frustration.
Green, the nation's leading scorer, had 22 points, C.J. Barksdale finished with a career-best 14 and Cadarian Raines added 10, but no one else scored more than five points in the Hokies' 88-56 loss to No. 6 Duke on Thursday night.
The problem, Green said after the Hokies' ninth straight loss, is simple.
"We didn't pay attention to the scouting reports," he said, speaking particularly of defending Duke's Seth Curry. "We're shooting through gaps instead of chasing Curry. It's crazy, man. We go over the same thing every single game, and it's just so frustrating. It boils down to paying attention."
Hokies coach James Johnson tries to avoid putting Green on the other team's top scoring threat, preferring to conserve his energy for offense. Eventually he had no choice as Curry hit three early 3-pointers.
"On the offensive end they are throwing two or three guys at him, they're pressing him, and then he has to guard the best player on the team," Johnson said of Green. "I'm sure he's feeling it a little bit."
Green is trying to stay positive, knowing his teammates look to him as the team leader.
"I'm going to say there's hope because I believe in this team. I'm sure a lot of people don't, but I do. We've just got to get some guys on board. We've got to stop making excuses," he said. "There's always an excuse some way, somehow, instead of just playing the game. We've got to have more guys step up."
The Blue Devils (23-2, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) had no problem finding someone to do that.
Curry scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half as Duke opened a 20-point lead. Rasheed Sulaimon added 17 points and Mason Plumlee had 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Blue Devils as they moved coach Mike Krzyzewski into sole possession of third place on the career list for victories at one school with 877.
He was tied with Adolph Rupp of Kentucky and is now two behind North Carolina's Dean Smith. Syracuse's Jim Boeheim leads with 910 victories.
The Hokies (11-15, 2-11) shot just 43 percent and made only 1 of 16 3-point attempts.
Duke, meantime, buried the Hokies quickly with a 3-point barrage.
Curry had three 3s and Quinn Cook and Sulaimon also connected in an early 19-6 run, and after the teams swapped baskets, Curry capped a 15-3 burst for Duke with his fourth 3-pointer of the half.
That made the score 37-17 after 16 minutes, and Curry added a fifth 3 before halftime. Duke was 8 for 9 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes. The Hokies, meantime, had 10 field goals, none of them 3s.
Duke finished 12 for 17 on 3-pointers and shot 53.6 percent (30 of 56) overall.
Coming off a 2-point loss at Maryland, the Blue Devils started fast in the second half, too, getting an inside basket by Josh Hairston, a baseline jumper from Cook and a 3 from Sulaimon to make it 55-30.
The Hokies never threatened again and Virginia Tech coach James Johnson pulled Green with just over 6 minutes to play and trailing 73-49. Krzyzewski followed with wholesale changes shortly thereafter.
The victory kept Duke solidly in second place in the ACC, two games ahead of North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia.
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