After winning three straight games heading into Monday night's showdown at Cassell Coliseum against No. 7 Duke, the Virginia Tech men's basketball team was looking to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume with a Quad 1 win over the Blue Devils in their first of two Quad 1 opportunities this week.
Things did not go the way the Hokies wanted at home against Duke. After jumping out to a 13-9 lead in the opening half, Virginia Tech allowed a 12-0 Blue Devils run for a 21-13 lead. The rest of the game the Hokies were playing catchup and every time they got with a basket, the Blue Devils had the answer to pick up a big ACC road victory ahead of their showdown this weekend at No. 3 North Carolina. Here are five takeaways after Virginia Tech fell to 13-8 overall and 5-5 in the conference.
* You have to give credit where credit is due. Duke's defense was good and took away Hunter Cattoor, Sean Pedulla, and Tyler Nickel from behind the arc. In the opening half, the Hokies made three of their 11 3-point attempts, all by MJ Collins. The other Virginia Tech shooters struggled to come close to even getting an open look in the second half as well.
* Speaking of Collins, he was the only reason Virginia Tech was down six, 35-29, at the half. He had 13 of their 29 points. Sean Pedulla did a good job of moving the ball and even got it inside to Lynn Kidd who had six points. Again, it had a lot to do with Duke's defense.
* The 3-point shot was going to play a huge role in who won the game. Virginia Tech relies on the 3-ball, but it was Duke that won that battle and won it handily. Whenever they needed a bucket, the Blue Devils were able to knock down a shot from behind the arc. The Hokies struggles with the 3-ball hurt them.
* In the end, Virginia Tech just couldn't get enough stops on the defensive end. Whether it was on the inside or the outside, Duke got baskets when they needed them. The defensive glass was an issue for the Hokies, who allowed nine offensive rebounds and it seemed like they got a lot of their points off of them.
* After scoring 13 first-half points, Collins only had four in the second half while Cattoor finished with 15 himself and Pedulla 12. Kidd had also had a dozen, but it wasn't in the cards for Virginia Tech who was just 6-for-22 from behind the arc.
This was a tough loss for Virginia Tech in terms of the NCAA Tournament and it makes their path very difficult with a lot of road games coming up on the second half of the schedule, beginning Saturday when they travel to South Florida to play Miami for the second time this season and looking to avenge a loss at home earlier this month.