Blacksburg, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jahlil Okafor made his return to the court, and fourth-ranked Duke needed every one of the star freshman's season- best 30 points to pull out a 91-86 overtime victory over upset-minded Virginia Tech.
The Blue Devils were able to roll past Clemson on Saturday with Okafor sitting out due to a sprained left ankle, but had a surprisingly much harder time putting away a determined Hokies team that entered this matchup 2-12 in ACC play, even with the national Player of the Year candidate going 13-of-18 from the field and grabbing nine rebounds.
Virginia Tech (10-18, 2-13 ACC) was able to force extra time behind a 12-of-22 success rate from 3-point range, with the Blue Devils aiding the cause by hitting just 11 of its 22 free-throw tries.
"We knew we were going to get a game like that from Virginia Tech," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They've been so good at home. They probably should have had two or three more wins at home. They had Virginia beat. We knew. It wasn't like we overlooked the game."
Duke (25-3, 12-3) still managed to earn its eighth straight win on the strength of big performances from Okafor and Quinn Cook, who buried 6-of-11 shots from beyond the arc in a 26-point effort.
Jalen Hudson stepped up big for the Hokies, tallying a career-high 23 points. Adam Smith finished with 15 points in the tough loss, with Devin Wilson recording 10 points and 11 assists for Virginia Tech.
The Hokies used their sharp perimeter shooting to offset Okafor's dominance in the paint and build a 52-44 advantage less than five minutes into the second half. Their lead was six before Cook put up five quick points in front of a Matt Jones' triple that put Duke ahead midway through the period.
Those baskets began a 13-3 flurry, which Cook capped with another trey that gave the Blue Devils a 64-60 edge with 9:24 left in regulation.
Virginia Tech continued to hang tough, though, and went back in front behind a 9-2 surge Malik Muller finished with a 3-pointer that had Duke down 75-71 with under four minutes to go.
The Blue Devils responded with a 6-0 run, but Justin Bibbs' short jumper with 49.9 seconds remaining pulled the Hokies even at 77-77. Okafor was fouled on the next possession but missed both attempts, and Hudson couldn't get an in- close shot to fall as the horn sounded.
"I thought it was the best look we could have gotten," Hudson said. "It was a great play drawn up by (Hokies coach) Buzz (Williams). I felt like I got fouled, but we're not going to get that call at the end of the game. I've just got to finish it."
Duke eventually took over during the extra session. Okafor scored four early points, then fed Justise Winslow for an easy inside bucket that gave the Blue Devils an 83-80 lead with 1:51 left.
After two Hudson free throws brought the Hokies back within one, Cook delivered a damaging blow by drilling a corner 3-pointer with 57.8 seconds to play. Virginia Tech came up empty on its next two trips down the court, and Duke made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on.
"We finally participated at the level we needed to do to be worthy of winning," Krzyzewski said. "I'm glad we turned it on for the last 15 minutes of regulation and then overtime."
The Blue Devils appeared on the way to an expected rout after opening the game on a 15-4 run, but Virginia Tech shot a scorching 69.6 percent from the field for the first half to claim a 39-37 lead at the break. Hudson led the charge with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Virginia Tech came out on fire to begin the second half as well, with Ahmed Hill and Smith burying back-to-back 3-pointers that had the Hokies ahead by a 45-37 score less than a minute into the period.
Virginia Tech's most recent win over a ranked team came against then-No. 1 Duke at Cassell Coliseum on Feb. 26, 2011. The Hokies have dropped 16 straight to Top-25 opponents since ... The Blue Devils had won the previous three meetings in the series by an average of 26 points ... Duke finished with a 48-30 advantage in points in the pain ... Winslow had 15 points and seven rebounds prior to fouling out in overtime ... Cook has averaged 23.6 points over Duke's last five games and made 21 3-pointers over that stretch.