The third-ranked Duke Blue Devils close out the home portion of their schedule on Tuesday night, as they entertain the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cameron Indoor Stadium in an Atlantic Coast Conference bout.
Virginia Tech is winding down a disappointing season, as it sits at 13-16 overall and just 4-12 in ACC play. The Hokies have been playing better of late however, winning two of their last three games, including a 69-61 triumph over Clemson on Saturday night.
Duke suffered a 73-68 loss at Virginia on Feb. 28, but it bounced back in a huge way with a 79-76 win over nationally-ranked Miami-Florida on Saturday. The Blue Devils are 25-4 overall and remain in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but at 12-4 in the ACC, they are unlikely to catch Miami (14-2) for the regular-season conference crown.
These two teams met less than two weeks ago, with Duke coming out on top, 88-56. The Blue Devils have now defeated the Hokies in five straight and nine of the last 10 meetings overall, extending their lead in the all-time series to a commanding 41-8.
Virginia Tech built up an 11-point advantage at the half against Clemson the last time out, and it was able to hold on to the lead down the stretch thanks mostly to a 54.8 percent shooting effort. Putting forth another outstanding performance was Erick Green, who shot 8-of-12 from the floor (5-of-7 from 3- point range) on his way to 29 points. C.J. Barksdale added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Robert Brown netted 13 points in the triumph.
The Hokies have an impressive offensive attack, pouring in more than 70 ppg, and that is mostly thanks to the nation's leading scorer in Green. The 6- foot-4 senior is netting 25.0 ppg on 48 percent field goal shooting, and he also adds 4.0 apg and 4.0 rpg for good measure. Although neither can touch Green's production, Jarell Eddie (11.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Brown (8.9 ppg) are both in the midst of solid seasons. VaTech's downfall comes at the defensive end as it yields an average of 73.7 ppg, which ranks last in the ACC.
Duke trailed Miami by one point midway through the second half during its most recent game, but it took control of the game with a 20-9 run over the next eight minutes to secure the impressive victory. After missing two months with a foot injury, Ryan Kelly returned to the lineup in spectacular fashion, pouring in a career-high 36 points on 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Quinn Cook added 15 points and five rebounds, while Mason Plumlee netted 12 points and blocked a pair of shots.
The Blue Devils have the most potent offensive attack in the ACC, scoring 78.5 ppg while ranking in the top-two in field goal percentage (.475), 3-point percentage (.414) and free-throw percentage (.723), and their scoring defense (65.5 ppg) is strong enough to give them the best scoring margin (+13.0) in the league. Plumlee is a force to be reckoned with in the paint with 17.1 ppg (on 59.1 percent shooting) and 10.3 rpg, while Seth Curry has made 74-of-171 from 3-point range (.433) en route to 16.9 ppg. Kelly's return to the lineup will only help, as he averages 14.8 ppg, while Cook (12.5 ppg, 5.4 apg) and Rasheed Sulaimon (12.0 ppg) round out one of the deepest teams in the nation.