Radford, No. 20 Virginia Tech hold off No. 19 Duke 74-67
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — His team seemingly stunned by Duke’s second-half surge, Virginia Tech coach Mike Young opted against a momentum-halting timeout.
He told his Hokies to get tough and play on — and that’s just what they did.
Tyrece Radford had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lift No. 20 Virginia Tech over the 19th-ranked Blue Devils 74-67 on Tuesday night.
The double-double was the first of the season for Radford, who helped the Hokies (10-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) jump to an 18-point, first-half lead and hold off Duke’s rally to win for the sixth time in seven games.
“I’ve got a pretty good team,” Young said. “Let’s not beat around the bush. We’ve got a pretty good team. I think we’ve got a chance to be really good.”
The Hokies had led from the tip, making six of their first eight shots and shooting 63.3% (19 of 30) in the first half mainly behind Radford, who made 6 of 8 in the first 20 minutes.
Duke, though, cut the deficit to 56-55 after Matthew Hurt hit a corner 3-pointer with 13:12 remaining. At that point, Young decided not to call a timeout, letting his team continue to play.
Radford led the way, scoring the game’s next five points, and Duke went scoreless on six consecutive possessions. The Blue Devils got no closer than four points the rest of the game.
“I was telling (teammates), ‘We’ve got to go,’” Radford said.
“I saw a level of poise,” Young said. “I didn’t want to call timeout when Duke took off on us in the second half. Part of that was by design. I wanted to see us figure it out and fight through it.”
Keve Aluma added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Jalen Cone finished with 14 points for Virginia Tech.
Jeremy Roach led Duke (5-3, 3-1) with 22 points. Hurt, the ACC’s leading scorer (19.6 points per game), finished with 20.
“They’re really good,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the Hokies. “Mike’s team, they know who they are.
“In the first half, they really hit us hard,” he added. “They played great defense, really strong, physical. They played tough, and it knocked us back. We have not played in an ACC game like that, our players, especially the freshmen.”
Duke: The young Blue Devils have a lot of individual talent, but they’re still a work in progress as a team, particularly on offense. Questionable shot selection and turnovers led to a first-half deficit, and they shot just 40% (24 of 60) for the game with more turnovers (12) than assists (11). Given their talent, they figure to get better as the season goes along — and probably be a force again in March.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies have three wins over ranked teams this season and continue to enhance their NCAA Tournament resumé. But they’ve played just one true road game and only three games away from Cassell Coliseum. That’s going to change, as they now play five of their next seven on the road.
“We’ve got the potential to make a run for it,” Radford said. “We’ve just got to stay level-minded, level-headed, and not get the big head or anything. We’ve just got to stay humble.”
HIGH PRAISE FOR RADFORD
On four occasions this season, Radford had missed a double-double by a point or a rebound or two, but he achieved the accomplishment Tuesday, and he also added five assists.
“The kid Radford was the best player on the court,” Krzyzewski said. “Double-double, but his intensity, how hard he played really helps their team immensely.”
Jalen Johnson, the Blue Devils’ third-leading scorer coming into the game (11.5 ppg), had missed Duke’s past three games with a foot injury, but entered the game with 16:23 left in the first half after Roach picked up his second foul. He scored two points in four minutes.
Virginia Tech plays at Wake Forest — winless in ACC play — on Saturday, and a win there combined with the victory over the Blue Devils should propel them up the Top 25 poll. Duke could fall out of the poll following a loss in their lone game of the week.
Duke plays at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
The Hokies play at Wake Forest on Sunday.
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