Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blue Devils Survive Hokies

RIVERS (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
#6 DUKE 60, VIRGINIA TECH 56 -- The book on the Blue Devils is simply that they are doomed by a bad shooting night.  However, if the opponent can’t make a basket either, it’s likely that Coach K’s squad will find a way to win.

And, that’s exactly what happened.

Duke shot 37% from the field and a 5 of 26 (19.2%) from behind the arc and still managed to hang on to advance to the ACC tournament semi-finals for the 14th time in the past 15 years and their 42nd overall.

Tyler Thornton scored a career-high 13 points and Austin Rivers hustled for a clinching three-point play as the Blue Devils advanced without injured starter Ryan Kelly.

Seeking their fourth straight tournament title, the Blue Devils (27-5) didn't put away the 10th-seeded Hokies (16-17) until the closing seconds, even though Virginia Tech went more than 8 minutes without making a field goal in the second half.

The Hokies finished the game shooting 30.2% from the field in spite of making 6 out of 12 three-pointers.
Rivers scored 17 points and sealed it by outrunning two Hokies for a loose ball near midcourt. Trailing 55-51, Virginia Tech's Erick Green took off for the hoop, looking to turn it into a one-possession game. But his shot ricocheted off the rim...

Four players, two from each team, took off after the ball. Rivers beat them all to it, drove to the basket, drew a foul and completed the three-point play with 15.1 seconds left.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Thornton was a little-used weapon for the Blue Devils, coming into the game averaging just 3.7 points. But he kept finding himself open, so he kept putting it up.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore, who had not attempted more than six shots in a game all season, put it up a staggering 16 times - all but three of them from beyond the 3-point arc. Three of those went in, and Duke needed every one to hold off Virginia Tech.

It was amazing the Hokies hung around for that long, considering they made only 16 of 53 shots and needed a late flourish just to nudge their average above 30 percent. After Green's jumper with 13:14 remaining, Virginia Tech didn't score again until Robert Brown hit a short fallaway jumper with 4:53 left to make it 50-42.

Brown and Green led the Hokies with 16 points apiece, but Green made only 3-of-16 shots. He did most of his damage at the foul line, going 9-for-9.

Mason Plumlee added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils.

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