CHUCK LIDDY - email@example.com
Duke's Josh Hairston grabs a rebound from Virginia Tech's Cadarian Raines (4) in the first half at the ACC tournament at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
ATLANTA -- With Ryan Kelly out with a sprained foot and Miles Plumlee saddled with foul trouble for much of Friday nights game against Virginia Tech, Duke relied on a patched-together lineup and a gritty defensive effort to earn a 60-56 win over the Hokies in the ACC tournament.
Austin Rivers led the Blue Devils with 17 points while Tyler Thornton added a career-high 13, although it was a team victory in just about every respect.
Despite its undersized lineup, second-seeded Duke (27-5) held No. 10 seed Virginia Tech (16-17) to 30.2 percent shooting while holding its own on the glass (the Hokies outrebounded the Blue Devils by one).
With the victory, Duke advanced to face the winner of Friday nights late game between Florida State and Miami at Philips Arena.
After the Blue Devils loss to North Carolina last Saturday, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski expressed frustration that his team once again let their offense affect their defense.
That wasnt an issue against the Hokies.
While the offensive effort wasnt especially graceful Duke only made 5 of its 26 3-point attempts while shooting 37 percent from the floor the Hokies couldnt find a way to crack the Blue Devils defense.
After Virginia Techs Cadarian Raines made two free throws with 11:46 remaining to cut the Duke lead to 43-38, the Hokies didnt score again in more than 6 minutes. Of course, the Blue Devils didnt exactly go crazy in that stretch, but it did enough to build the lead to 10 points, 48-38.
Dukes best periods of offense came earlier in the second half, when Seth Curry found Mason Plumlee for a transition alley-oop, Curry hit a 3-pointer from the wing and Austin Rivers made two free throws in successive possessions.
In a sign the Blue Devils offense was discombobulated, Tyler Thornton took 16 shots. His career-high coming into the game was six.
After Virginia Tech closed to within six points with a little more than 4 minutes remaining, Duke called timeout. Once again, Curry found Plumlee for an alley-oop that put the Blue Devils up 52-44.
Thornton also hit a 3-pointer from the corner to put Duke up eight after Virginia Tech trimmed the Blue Devils lead to five.
Still, Virginia Tech didnt kept at it until the final seconds.
After Thornton missed another 3-pointer from the corner, Virginia Techs Robert Brown drove and scored on a layup while being fouled by Mason Plumlee to pull the Hokies within 55-51. Brown missed the free throw on the other end, but Thornton missed another 3-pointer to give Virginia Tech a chance in the final seconds.
Hokies coach Seth Greenberg called timeout, but Erick Green couldnt get his shot in the lane to fall. The rebound came all the way out to halfcourt, and Rivers managed to sprint ahead of the crowd and chase the ball down. Rivers made a layup while being fouled, and after he made his free throw, the Blue Devils led 58-51.
With Kelly out and Miles Plumlee missing substantial periods of the game, Mason Plumlee was Dukes lone forward for significant stretches of Fridays game. The Blue Devils used four guards at times and also had Josh Hairston play an ACC-high 17 minutes.