DURHAM — Duke junior guard Nolan Smith didnt even try to conceal his excitement.
A steady stream of missed Duke jump shots had allowed a gritty Virginia Tech team to stay with the Blue Devils and even briefly lead in the second half Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
But sixth-ranked Duke got hot just in time to post its eighth consecutive ACC win by a 67-55 score over the Hokies. As the Blue Devils increased their advantage, Smith held the ball with the shot clock running down, then passed to Jon Scheyer on the wing.
Scheyer buried a 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 11 seconds to play, increasing the Blue Devils lead to 60-49 and effectively finishing off the Hokies. Smith did a little dance at halfcourt and pointed at Scheyer, and the two guards leaped and bumped chests as timeout was called.
In a key game, Duke (23-4, 11-2 ACC) added to its lead in the ACC standings over Maryland (19-7, 9-3) and Virginia Tech (21-5, 8-4). The Blue Devils can clinch at least a share of the ACCs top spot in the regular-season with two more conference victories.
Some excellent defense by Virginia Tech and shaky shooting by Duke helped the Hokies keep it close. Duke shot 7-for-30 from the field in the first half, including an abysmal 1-for-12 on two-point attempts.
After trailing by 11 points in the first half, the Hokies took advantage of their excellent defensive performance to grab a 45-44 lead with 9:52 remaining on a 3-pointer by guard Malcolm Delaney (19 points), the ACC scoring leader.
Thats when Smith ignited the Blue Devils, who made four of their next five field goal attempts. Smith drove for a layup and was fouled, and made two free throws on his next possession.
Center Brian Zoubek followed with a rebound for a three-point play that included Dukes only field goal not made by Smith, Scheyer or Kyle Singler in the entire game. A Singler 3-pointer gave Duke an eight-point lead, and Scheyer scored from Singler shortly afterward.
Singler led Duke with 25 points. Smith added 23 and Scheyer scored 15 as the rest of Dukes roster contributed just four points.
The atmosphere at Cameron matched the intensity of the game as two of the top three teams in the ACC standings met with a lot on the line. Duke and Virginia Tech both entered the game with five-game winning streaks, and Cameron was appropriately loud, though without the witty chants that usually get inside opposing players heads.
Virginia Tech led 12-8 early but was hurt by foul trouble. By the games ninth minute, Delaney and forward Jeff Allen had been called for two personal fouls.
Allen, the teams third-leading scorer, played just four minutes in the first half. A charging call with 1:15 to play in the half gave Delaney the ACCs leading scorer three fouls at halftime.
Singler, who scored 14 first-half points, helped Duke take advantage of the Hokies predicament to lead 35-24 with 2:23 remaining in the first half. But Dorenzo Hudson scored the final six points of the half to cut the Blue Devils lead to 35-30 at halftime.
It was an acceptable deficit when Virginia Techs foul trouble was taken into account.
email@example.com or 919-829-8942, or @kentysiac on Twitter