Virginia Tech outlasts Duke behind Blackshear’s big night

No. 3 Duke ran out of rallies on Tuesday night at No. 20 Virginia Tech.

The Blue Devils erased a seven-point deficit to tie the game with 1:51 left, but Ty Outlaw’s 3-pointer put the Hokies up for good and they held on for a 77-72 ACC basketball win at Cassell Coliseum.

Kerry Blackshear led Virginia Tech (22-6, 11-5 ACC) with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Ahmed Hill scored 17. Outlaw, from Roxboro, finished with 11 points.

RJ Barrett battled through a stomach illness to score 21 points for Duke (24-4, 12-3 ACC), which played its second game in a row without national player of the year candidate Zion Williamson, who is sidelined with a sprained right knee. Cam Reddish scored 17 and Marques Bolden 14 for the Blue Devils, who shot 50 percent.

“Our guys played hard, man,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They played hard and tough and we just lost a real tough game.”

Duke trailed by three points at halftime and by seven points with 3:40 to play before rallying to tie the game at 70.

But Outlaw drilled a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:28 left to give Virginia Tech the lead for good.

“I know what looks I’m going to get out of what play calls,” Outlaw said. “They just put me in the corner. If they dare to help off, the point guard is going to find me. I was just ready to go before the play even started.”

Reddish missed a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left and Hill missed a 3-pointer for the Hokies. But Blackshear grabbed the offensive rebound and got the ball to Alexander-Walker who was fouled with 19.5 seconds left. He hit two free throws for a 75-70 Hokies lead.

Jones hit a quick layup but Blackshear’s two free throws with 11 seconds left sealed the win for Virginia Tech.

“I’m proud of my team,” Krzyzewski said. “They didn’t lose. Virginia Tech won. There’s a big difference. Virginia Tech won a tough game.”

The Hokies led by three points at halftime and by as many as five early in the second half.

Virginia Tech’s lead was 56-51 when Duke pushed back behind Barrett.

Reddish hit a 3-pointer and, after Nickeil Alexander-Walker split two free throws, Barrett scored on a driving bank shot leaving the Hokies up 57-56.

Alexander-Walker scored in the lane but Barrett answered with a 3-pointer tying the score at 59 with 7:38 to play.

The Hokies struck back with Bede hitting a 3-pointer and Alexander-Walker making one of two free throws.

After two Reddish free throws for Duke, Blackshear scored inside, drew a foul and added a free throw for a 66-61 Virginia Tech lead with 6:19 to play.

Duke failed to score on three consecutive possessions before Blackshear’s drive and dunk at 4:29 extended Virginia Tech’s lead to 68-61.

But Duke kept fighting back.

Trailing 70-63, Alex O’Connell drilled a 3-pointer and, after Bede missed a 3-pointer, Bolden rebounded Reddish’s miss for a slam dunk.

Blackshear missed a 3-pointer and Bolden slammed home two points off a lob pass from Barrett for a 70-70 tie with 1:51 to play.

Virginia Tech led 37-34 at halftime before a 6-0 Duke run early in the second half, capped by a Bolden bank shot, gave the Blue Devils a 42-41 lead.

Duke’s advantage lasted 22 seconds as a Hill 3-pointer erased it and started a 7-1 Hokies run. Wabissa Bede’s free throws at 13:50 put Virginia Tech up 48-43.

Barrett struggled from the field early, missing his first six field goals of the game. The Blue Devils turned the ball over seven times in the first half, allowing the Hokies to score 10 points off those miscues and lead by three points at halftime.

Reddish made up for Barrett’s uncharacteristically slow start offensively, hitting 5 of 7 shots from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers, for 12 first-half points.

Virginia Tech twice led by as many as six points in the first half. The Hokies led 37-32 and had possession in the final 30 seconds of the half.

But instead of building on their lead, the Hokies turned it over on Alexander-Walker’s bad pass with 21 seconds left.

Barrett drove into the lane for Duke and had the ball knocked away. But he gathered it back and forced in a shot with two seconds left leaving the Hokies with a 37-34 halftime lead.

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.