Duke played probably its most complete game of the season against a good Virginia Tech team Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The 12th-ranked Blue Devils used their zone defense for nearly the entire game and managed to keep the Hokies off the offensive glass. Grayson Allen scored 25 points and was 9-for-17 from the floor. He also made seven three-pointers.
Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points and hit five three-pointers. Together, the two were 12-for-24 from behind the three-point line. And Duke won 74-52, all while Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, sat on the bench with a knee injury.
Duke was able to limit Virginia Tech junior guard Justin Robinson, who found himself in foul trouble early in the game. Robinson finished with only 5 points. He also had 5 assists.
The Blue Devils (21-5, 9-4 ACC) have now won two consecutive games after losing two.
Here are five observations and takeaways from the game:
1. Duke gave up only three offensive rebounds
Defensive rebounding had been the Blue Devils’ biggest flaw recently, a primary reason Duke had lost its two games prior to playing Georgia Tech. St. John’s had 16 offensive rebounds on Feb. 3 and beat Duke 81-77, and UNC had 20 offensive rebounds Feb. 8, and beat Duke 82-78.
And Georgia Tech’s 16 offensive rebounds fueled a near comeback.
But on Wednesday, the Blue Devils only gave up three offensive rebounds. Duke made an effort to attack the glass whenever a shot went up.
“We usually give up three offensive rebounds in the first two possessions of the game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “So, our perimeter really did a good job.”
Because Duke limited Virginia Tech’s offensive rebounds, the Hokies were not able to score second chance points.
2. Zone will be Duke’s primary defense going forward
Duke played zone for nearly the entire game, if not the whole game. It seemed to throw Virginia Tech off. The Hokies finished shooting 43 percent from the floor and scored only 52 points, which was the fewest points it has scored in a game this season.
Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said he was surprised to see Duke play zone for the entire game.
“I told our guys I anticipated between 58 and 66 percent of the possessions would be zone,” Williams said. “Just from watching them and studying them, they’ve always played zone. ... But I didn’t think that it would be 100 percent.”
Krzyzewski said in his post game press conference, that zone defense would be Duke’s primary defense going forward, complimented by man defense.
3. Marvin Bagley III
A few hours prior to the game, Marvin Bagley III took a few shots and free throws before re-entering the locker room. He wore street clothes and seemed to move around fine.
Krzyzewski didn’t elaborate much on Bagley, who has missed two straight games, after sustaining a knee sprain in Duke’s game against UNC last Thursday. But he said Bagley is getting better.
“Hopefully he’ll be back soon,” Krzyzewski said.
4. Grayson Allen looked like early-season Grayson
Allen’s shooting struggled mightily in January and some of February. But he has been improving. He had one of his best shooting performances in a long time on Wednesday. He was 9-for-17 from the floor and 7-for-15 from behind the three-point line. It was a big reason why Duke won.
“We needed a game where we played for 40 minutes, and I’m so happy that I can sit here and say we did that,” Allen said. “From start to finish today, we had energy, everyone was into the game, we played defense the whole time. Even at the end when we went on that run and got a big lead, we kept getting stops, other than a few three’s here and there, but we did a really good job of staying focused the whole game.”
Allen scored a team-high 25 points and had 6 assists. It was the second game in a row he has led the team in scoring. Allen scored 23 against Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Allen now has 1,814 points for his career, which is 20th on Duke’s all-time scoring list.
5. Trevon Duval appears back as the starter
Trevon Duval, who came off the bench while Alex O’Connell started on Sunday, regained his starting spot on Wednesday. O’Connell only played four minutes against Virginia Tech, after playing 22 minutes against Georgia Tech in a 80-69 win.
Duval had went through a terrible stretch in which he turned the ball over 25 times in the seven games prior to the Georgia Tech game. Many of his turnovers were unnecessary. At times, Allen had to take over at point guard.
In this game, Duval played with the ball in his hands from the wing and showed some effectiveness. While he still turned the ball over four times, those turnovers did not have a big impact on the game.
Duval also had 10 points and 3 assists. His alley-oop to sophomore forward Javin DeLaurier midway through the second half got the entire arena on their feet.
Duval said he has learned he has to play smarter.