Duke’s last two non-conference games of the year should have been cupcakes. But the Blue Devils were all over the place and struggled against both Tennessee State and Elon, trailing in the second half in both games before getting their shit together and taking the two victories.
The sloppiness that made those two games far closer than they should have been was on full display Saturday, as no. 5 Duke fell to unranked Virginia Tech by a score of 89-75. It’s easy to blame the absence of Grayson Allen here (the junior is indefinitely suspended for his somewhat psychopathic play), but it wasn’t just that. Duke’s defense was awful, allowing Virginia Tech to get away with 58 percent shooting from the field in the first half, and they landed themselves in foul trouble throughout. Freshman Frank Jackson—taking over Allen’s spot in the starting lineup—picked up three fouls in less than five minutes early, forcing the Blue Devils to try several different configurations where they were without a primary ball-handler.
Virginia Tech was led by Justin Bibbs, with 18 points, and Ahmed Hill, with 17. The Hokies punctuated the win with an alley-oop, and rightfully so.