Preview: Duke (15-1) v. Va. Tech (11-7)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Hokies who will tip off on Thursday night in Blacksburg, Va. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN beginning at 7:00 PM EST>


Duke (15-1, 3-0) vs Virginia Tech (11-7, 2-2)
Blacksburg, Va. - Cassell Coliseum
TV: ESPN / Tip: 7:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference: Atlantic Coast
Nickname: Hokies
Colors: Maroon & White
Head Coach: Seth Greenberg (5th year)
Career Record at Virginia Tech: 78-63 (291-233 Overall)

Projected Starters:
13 Deron Washington (6-7, 200, Sr.) – 12.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.2 apg
33 J.T. Thompson (6-6, 210, Fr.) – 3.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
34 Cheick Diakite (6-9, 220, Jr.) – 2.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg
23 Malcolm Delaney (6-3, 170, Fr.) – 8.2 ppg, 3.2 apg
40 A.D. Vassallo (6-6, 215, Jr.) – 15.8 ppg, 4.7 apg

Key Reserves:
 2 Dorenzo Hudson (6-5, 220, Fr.) – 5.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg
10 Hank Thorns (5-9, 175, Fr.) – 4.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
21 Lewis Witcher (6-9, 220, So.) – 2.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg
 1 Terrell Bell (6-6, 195, Fr.) - 2.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg

Storylines:

How They Got Here:
Duke enters Thursday's game with the Hokies riding a three game conference win streak that was extended with a 93-80 victory over Clemson on Saturday afternoon in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Virginia Tech, on the other hand, started slow this season and lost three of the first five games on the schedule. Since that time, however, the Hokies have been able to right the ship somewhat - and enter the game having won three of their last four including a 67-66 victory over Maryland. On Saturday, however, Virginia Tech rallied from a 16 point halftime deficit to tie the game, but ultimately fell to Georgia Tech 81-70 in Atlanta.

Series History:
The Blue Devils and Blue Devils have met 39 times before with Duke holding a 32-7 series advantage. However, the Hokies won last season's matchup, 69-67 in Cameron Indoor Stadium and trail the ACC series just 3-2. In games played in Blacksburg the Hokies are 5-6 all-time against Duke, and 1-1 in Cassell Coliseum.

Injury Report:
Duke center Brian Zoubek is listed as questionable for the game against Virginia Tech, but is expected to be in uniform.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will be without forward Jeff Allen who has been suspended by the ACC for two games for making inappropriate contact with an official during Saturday's game with Georgia Tech.

Short Lived Series Produces Many Memories:
In just a few short years the Duke v. Virginia Tech series has provided its fair share of memorable games. After Duke rolled 100-65 in the first ACC meeting between the teams, the series has been split with each team winning once on the other's home court. When Tech defeated Duke at Cassell Coliseum in 2005, it was the first Hokie win over a top-10 opponent in history. A year later it seemed as though Virginia Tech would stun Duke again, before Sean Dockery's midcourt miracle fell. Last season provided another first as the Hokies earned a first ever victory over on a top five opponent's home floor.

Tech Used To Close Games:
Prior to their loss to Georgia Tech, the Hokies' first three games were decided by a basket. The first loss of the conference season - to Wake Forest, was by just two points, while the wins over Maryland and Virginia were decided by a single point. Against the Yellow Jackets the team rallied from a huge half time hole before bowing out down the stretch. Playing in so many close games forces a young team to grow up fast, which is good for Greenberg's crew since freshmen have accounted for 55.2% of total playing time in ACC games.

Losing Allen Hurts Hokies Bad:
Suspended forward Jeff Allen had been very good for the Hokies this season, and was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the week ending January 13th. Allen scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and blocked three shots in Virginia Tech's victory over Maryland. After beating the Terps, Allen recorded his sixth double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the victory over Charleston Southern. On the season he's scored 230 points in 18 games - the first Hokie freshman to eclipse the 200 point mark since Deron Washington scored 238 during the 2004-2005 season. On the season Allen has scored in double figures in 15 of 18 games.

Veterans Will Need To Lead:
With Allen not available, look for Virginia Tech to rely heavily on Deron Washington and A.D. Vassallo to handle the scoring load. The duo combined for 23.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last season, and have upped those totals this year. In four ACC games Washington and Vassallo are combining for 28.8 points and 16.6 rebounds per game.

Coach K continues assault on wins list
Duke's victory over Clemson was Krzyzewski's 790th, good enough for sixth on the all-time list. Eddie Sutton is fifth overall and second among active coaches with 798 wins while first overall is Coach K's college coach, Bob Knight, with 900 wins. Coach K now has 717 wins at Duke, eighth all-time for most wins at one school and third among active coaches. Don Haskins from UTEP ranks seventh with 719 wins. With 790 career wins in his first 33 seasons, Coach K is currently second on the NCAA's list of most victories in a coaches' first 33 season. He trails Dean Smith, who had 802 wins through 33 seasons.

Prediction:

Duke 79
Virginia Tech 66


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