PREVIEW: Duke (13-2) v. Virginia Tech (10-5)

Duke will open the home portion of the ACC schedule on Saturday afternoon against Virginia Tech. The game will be broadcast beginning at 12 PM EST.

VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES

10-5 Overall, 2-0 Conference 

PROJECTED STARTERS

G- 23 Jalen Hudson (4.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
G- 10 Justin Bibbs (8.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
F- 00 Shane Henry (13.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
G- 04 Seth Allen (16.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg)
F- 32 Zach LeDay (12.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg)

LINKS: ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS | SCOUT SITE 

STAR WATCH

Redshirt junior power forward Zach LeDay is a transfer from South Florida where he started 16 games as a sophomore before moving to Blacksburg.  While he was a spot player at USF, he seems to have found his niche for the Hokies.  In the first game of his career he went for 26 points and 15 boards against Alabama State and has been consistently one of the top scorers for the Hokies this season.   LeDay’s best game of the season came in the Hokies’ upset win over Virginia when he scored 22 points including a trio of three pointers.  With his size and strength, LeDay will be a key match-up for Duke and enters the game with 12 double figure scoring efforts and a team best eight double figure rebounding games.

Seth Allen, another transfer (from Maryland) is the team’s second leading scorer.  The fourth year junior played in 20 games for the Terps as a sophomore, and started 15 in the program’s last season as a member of the ACC.  Included in that season was a Player of the Week honor when he scored 16 points to lead Maryland to an upset win over the then No. 2 ranked Blue Devils.  In the conference opener against NC State, Allen was lights out, scoring 23 points against the Wolfpack.   Allen has scored in double figures in 13 of 15 games this season.  

THE STORYLINES

HOKIES FLYING HIGHER THAN EXPECTED

Virginia Tech has surprised many with a fast start in league play with wins over North Carolina State and in-state rival, Virginia.  Against the Wolfpack, VT came back from a 16 point deficit.  And nobody expected them to upset the No. 4 ranked Cavaliers, but forcing 16 turnovers did the trick in the two point win.  A win over Duke would be the first time the program had found three straight wings to open league play in four years.  Not bad for a team that had already lost Alabama State earlier this year.

HISTORY NOT ON THEIR SIDE

Keeping the momentum going in Durham won’t be easy, and the Hokies will be looking to reverse a trend of road futility.  When Virginia Tech traveled to Radford and won on their opponents’ home court on December 9th, it was the first true road victory for the team in two calendar years, dating back to a December 13, 2013 win over Miami.  

And there’s the fact that Duke is ranked.  This will be the 197th time the Hokies have faced a team ranked in the AP Poll.  In those games Virginia Tech has lost 166 times, and the Hokies are 1-2 against ranked teams this season.  But, against the defending national champions the team fares much better, posting a 2-3 record against teams coming off a title run.  VT defeated Duke in Blacksburg during the 2010-11 season, but lost to the Blue Devils in the 2011 ACC Tournament.  

DOES THE POWER OF THE BEARD ABIDE?

Against Wake Forest fifth year senior Marshall Plumlee was sporting the makings of a beard.  Much like the last big center to grow a beard, Brian Zoubek, Plumlee seemed to have a epiphany on the court in his last game.  Plumlee scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds against Wake Forest.  And he did it without missing a single shot - field goal or free throw.   Plumlee will have a size advantage against the Hokies who have just one player in the starting lineup - 190 pound forward Shane Henry - who stands taller than 6-foot-7.

With Amile Jefferson (who also had a beard and was leading the ACC in double-doubles at the time of his injury) out for an unknown length of time, the Blue Devils will need more of the same from Plumlee.  Specifically for him to score and finish around the rim while rebounding and playing at least passable defense in the paint.   

In relief of Plumlee, Duke used Chase Jeter and Sean Obi for a combined eight minutes against the Demon Deacons.  

“We're still fighting the adversity of not having Amile, and that's going to be for a while,” said Coach Krzyzewski.

Notebook:

- Duke is 483-59 (.891) at home under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, including a 104-4 (.963) record at Cameron Indoor Stadium this decade.

- Duke employs one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks, leading the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (121.1) and ranking third in the NCAA in scoring offense (88.5). In its last four games, Duke is averaging 95.0 points.

- Duke has scored nearly a quarter of its points this season at the free throw line (23.1 percent). The Blue Devils have made 69 more free throws (308) than its opponents have attempted (239).  

- With five ball-handlers in its seven-man rotation, Duke ranks among the national leaders in both turnover average (9.8) and turnover percentage (13.8 percent of offensive possessions).

- Duke leads the ACC and 16th nationally with an average of 5.7 blocks per game as Marshall Plumlee is averaging a career-best 1.9 per contest.

- Grayson Allen’s average of 20.8 points per game ranks sixth by a player in the six major conferences. Duke is 18-0 in his career when he scores in double figures.

They Said It:

“If we handle it wrong, they’ll beat us by 40.” - Buzz Williams on his team dealing with Cameron Indoor Stadium

“It’s going to be wild, but that’s what we expect. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, and giving our best shot.” - Virginia Tech Justin Bibbs 

“With this team, I think we’ll answer well to them. We have similar match-ups.” - Seth Allen

The Prediction

Virginia Tech has been up and down all season long.  The Hokies lost to Alabama State and were blown out by West Virginia when the Mountaineers pressed the Hokies into a season high 22 turnovers.  It was a game that got away from Williams’ team early and they were never able to catch up.  Duke will look to do more of the same.  On the flip side the Hokies have a veteran group of guards who can make things tough.  Still, it’s at Cameron and Duke is starting to gel more and more each game with its six and a half man rotation.  We look for the Blue Devils to come away with a result and for Brandon Ingram to have a very big game in his first home league contest.  The pick…

Duke - 86
Virginia Tech - 73


The Devils Den Top Stories