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Hokies Can't Figure Things Out, Falter Against No. 7 Duke 77-67

By Zachary Ozmon | January 30
MJ Collins led Hokie scorers tonight with 17 points, but it wasn't enough to get the victory at home. (Will Trent)

Cassell Coliseum had been a safe haven for the Hokies as of recently against the Blue Devils, winning 5 out of the last 6 matchups in it. Tonight, though, the Cassell (Castle) was stormed as Virginia Tech (13-8, 5-5 ACC) couldn’t quite get over the hump against No. 7 Duke (16-4, 7-2 ACC) Monday night and fell short by a final score of 77-67.

What would have been the perfect game and a Q1 win to put on the Hokies tournament resume ends up now being notched on the other end of it, as the Blue Devils came into Blacksburg and dominated the boards, as well as shooting the ball exceptionally from the field.

“As I told our team, sometimes in this thing, the other team plays better than you do, and they played better than we did,” said Head Coach Mike Young.”

“Obviously, we didn’t rebound very well. We had our shots and squandered some opportunities. I tip my cap on this particular evening to their team and their players, John. They had a good game plan.”

At 12:40 in the first half, the Hokies and Blue Devils had been trading buckets back and forth, with Duke holding a 14-13 lead. Duke’s Caleb Foster and Kyle Filipowski had eight and six, respectively, while all five Hokie starters tallied at least one bucket.


Things just weren’t going the Hokies way as Duke jumped up to a 32-21 nearing the end of the half. Things got interesting though, and Tech climbed back to as close as down three, but Duke’s Jeremy Roach nailed a three before the buzzer to push their lead to six.


“To go up to end the half, you know, Sean Stewart made a play to keep the ball alive, Flip comes up with it, and then Jeremy hits the three. I think that’s probably the most important play of the game, to be honest,” said Duke Head Coach Jon Scheyer.


“Because the momentum is going their way, you just respond. It’s just a difference-maker. That was a big segment.”


From there, the Hokies were never really able to climb back into the ballgame, getting as close as four points, but never able to climb all the way back into the driver's seat.

“Proctor, Roach, McCain, and Caleb were good tonight,” said Young.

“Our coverage... we’ve got to now help in, which makes it difficult to sprain a thing out to whoever else is off the ball. They had a couple of offensive rebounds sprayed onto the perimeter for made threes in the first half. Again, they were better than us.”

A lot of the scoring efficiency that had been working in the Hokies favor sort of fell off a little, which was enough for Duke to take advantage and not let go. Apart from a bright spot for MJ Collins, who had 17 points on the night, no other player really stepped up in the matchup.

Other role players like Robbie Beran, Mylyjael Poteat, and Tyler Nickel struggled to make an impact in this one.

Sean Pedulla also had a tough night shooting, going 4-for-15 in the contest.

“He’s going to attack no matter what, but for him not to score a three, I think that’s a credit to our defense,” said Scheyer.

“For him and Cattoor combined to only have two threes, we know those guys are dynamic. I think it’s credit to our guys guarding the ball and making them play a little bit more one-on-one as much as possible.”

The painted area in terms of defense was a problem for the Hokies tonight as well, as they gave up 42 points in it and got outrebounded 38-20 in the contest.

“A lot of that is us in rotation. We’re in rotation; the shot goes up, and, you know, we don’t have a guard chipping,” said Young.

“That’s Filipowski, Ryan Young, and Mark Mitchell, you know, and all of that is created by dribble penetration a lot of times. So I would attribute that to that point.”

The Hokies surprisingly did win the turnover battle, forcing 14 to only their four, but they could only contribute 11 points off of those turnovers.

“Just put the ball up ahead. Now you’ve got a Duke team playing transition, it’s hard to get matched up,” said Young.

“Get the ball up the floor where you could have a three on two, or a three on one and a half, or something along those lines. Got to do a better job with that.”

Virginia Tech gets a much-needed break this week, not playing until Saturday when they take on the Miami Hurricanes in Coral Gables. That game will be on February 3rd at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN.

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Born in Chesapeake and raised into a family of hokies, Virginia Tech is where I call home now. Attended New River Community College as a freshman and now a sophomore at VT as a transfer student in Fall 2022. Majoring in Sports Media and Analytics, I’m excited for what’s to come for me as a student at VT.

Virginia Tech sports has always been something I have been a fan of. From afternoons in Lane Stadium to nights in Cassell Coliseum, I have loved every second of it no matter the outcome.

One of my first memories of being a Tech fan was our upset win against Ohio State 35-21 where CB Donovan Riley had the game sealing pick-6. More recently, beating UNC in 6 overtimes, our run to the sweet 16, and of course winning the men’s basketball ACC Championship with upsets over UNC and Duke.

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