Hokies throw speed bump in front of Coach K farewell tour
The perception was that this iteration of the ACC Tournament was going to be another essential part of the Mike Krzyzewski Farewell Tour.
One more championship for the legendary coach to call his own before retiring.
Just one problem: Someone forgot to tell Virginia Tech.
"We’re not giving it back," coach Mike Young said after the Hokies’ 82-67 rout of Duke on Saturday night in the ACC Tournament championship game at Barclays Center.
Virginia Tech, which entered the week on the bubble, won the program’s first conference championship since 1979, when it was a member of the Metro Conference.
And to earn the ACC’s automatic bid, all the Hokies had to do was win four games in four days.
To hear Hunter Cattoor, who scored 31 points against Duke, that was the plan.
"We [knew] going into this tournament we were going to have to win a couple," said Cattoor, who shot 11-for-16. "Once we won our first one, we [said] why not want the whole thing and you won’t have to worry about waiting on Selection Sunday?"
For 40 minutes, Virginia Tech (23-12) did not take a backward step against the No. 7 team in the nation. Rather, the Hokies took the fight to the star-laden Blue Devils (28-6), who had no answers.
Virginia Tech decimated Duke’s defense to the tune of 50% shooting from the field (32-for-64) and 45.5% from three-point range (10-for-22). The Hokies outrebounded the Blue Devils 37-26 and outscored Duke 40-28 in the second half.
"They’re a really good team," Krzyzewski said. "They were the better team. This isn’t like some happenstance. They’re an excellent basketball team."
Virginia Tech had not played Duke since Dec. 22 but did not seem especially interested in a feeling-out process to start the game. The Hokies led 42-39 at halftime, mostly on the strength of 70% three-point shooting (7-for-10). Which shouldn’t have been a surprise; Virginia Tech was the fourth-best three-point-shooting team in the nation.
What was a surprise was Duke’s inaccuracy from outside the arc. The Blue Devils, the 29th-best three-point team in the nation, went 4-for-20 (20%).
Virginia Tech’s three-point marksmanship did not carry over to the second half, but with Duke center Mike Williams in foul trouble, the Hokies attacked the paint, and it paid dividends. Virginia Tech connected on 15 of 34 attempts from the field, made 7 of 9 free throws in the second half and outrebounded Duke 23-15.
"We thought our small lineup [against North Carolina in the ACC semifinals] was really effective," Young said. "We thought with Mark and Theo [John] off the floor and Paolo [Banchero] at the five [and] AJ [Griffin] at the four, maybe we could get away with our four-guard lineup."
Banchero led Duke with 20 points. Keve Aluma had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for Virginia Tech.