On the second Taco Tuesday of the year, the Virginia Tech Hokies took on the Duke Blue Devils. Mike Young loves popcorn. That’s it, that’s the sentence. Speaking of poppin, the Hokies came out shooting and firing, making three of their first 4 shots, taking an early 7-2 lead. Coach K and his Duke Blue Devils came out a little cold, only making two of their first 5 shots. The Hokies were aggressive before the first TV timeout of the game, creating 3 turnovers, and making Duke commit 3 fouls within the first four and a half minutes. Jalen Cone comes off the bench and makes his first three of the game, putting the Hokies up 9 early. Jalen Cone on his next possession moved without the ball as well as anybody in the country and sank another three. Matthew Hurt so good for the Blue Devils sank his own three. The sophomore is averaging 19 a game, up 9 from last season and leading the ACC in points. The Hokies defense stepped up and the offense made more shots than medical personnel giving out the Covid-19 vaccine, taking the Hokies to a 15 point lead at 27-12. The Blue Devils made their first shot in four minutes to get back within 15 with 9 minutes to go in the first half. The Hokies made 5 straight shots, missed their 6th, but followed up with an offensive rebound, kicked it out and smashed a three home to get up 18. Duke came down and sunk another three to get back within 15. Duke switched to a press zone with 5 minutes to go in the first half which helped Duke fight their way a little bit back into the game. Turning the Hokies over after a basket on the inside, Duke may have figured out a way to score down-low. One thing that really stuck out was Keve Aluma’s defense on Matthew Hurt. He was able to play strong defense against one of the best players in the ACC, let alone the country. Tyrece Radford finished the first half with 14 points; he averages 9.8 a game. The Hokies lead by 12 over Duke, 46-34.
Duke started the second half strong, having the Hokies commit their first foul within the first 19 seconds. That’s quicker than me with my wife. Duke sank both free throws to cut the lead to ten to start the half. Hokies came down and turned the ball over that lead to a fast break cutting the Hokie lead to 8. Duke came out aggressive, but maybe too aggressive, leading to two quick fouls within the first minute of the second half. Tyrece Radford continued being aggressive, ending the 6-0 run that Duke had started at the beginning of the half. Duke slithered their way back by attacking the rim and battling harder than the Hokies did in the second half. The Hokies spark plug, Jalen Cone is an absolute joy to watch. He was fouled on his first three point attempt in the second half and made all three free throws. Duke just would not go away and has been by far the better team since half time, cutting the lead all the way down to four points. Matthew Hurt became a problem for the Hokies in the second half, scoring 7 straight Duke points, cutting the lead to 1. The Hokies stormed back with some good defense and some key shots made to regain a 6 point lead. The Hokies starting taking more control of the game once Keve Aluma rinsed off the crisco from his hands and started bodying up Matthew ‘Hurt so good.’ with 5 straight points for the Hokies to increase their lead to 9, 68-59. The Blue Devils went on a 5-0 run to get within 4 with 2:17 to go in the game. Keve Aluma played some big boy basketball and go into the lane to draw the 10th foul of the game on the Blue Devils. Aluma converted both free throws to extend the Hokie lead to 6. Duke came down the floor and had an open three opportunity and the corner and missed. With 1:34 left in the game, Tyrece Radford sold a foul of him getting shoved and got to the line to shoot two. Radford made 1 of 2 to extend to 7 points. Aluma put on the sticky stuff from Little Giants with a two handed block, that lead to a transition slam to extend the lead to 9 points with just a little over 1 minute in the game. The Hokies continued to finish strong, beating Coach K’s Blue Devils, 74-67, covering the spread by a lot.