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No. 2 Duke tops Virginia Tech in Coach K’s last ACC opener

Sportsnaut
Dec 22, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Theo John (left) and forward Joey Baker battle with Virginia Tech Hokies guard Darius Maddox (13) for a loose ball during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 22, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Theo John (left) and forward Joey Baker battle with Virginia Tech Hokies guard Darius Maddox (13) for a loose ball during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Paolo Banchero scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half as No. 2 Duke overcame visiting Virginia Tech for a 76-65 victory in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener Wednesday night in Durham, N.C.

The Blue Devils (11-1, 1-0 ACC) used a couple of huge second-half runs to take control after trailing by four at halftime.

Wendell Moore Jr. poured in 18 points, AJ Griffin added 13 points off the Duke bench and Trevor Keels also had 13 points. The Blue Devils made all 10 of their second-half free-throw attempts.

The Blue Devils are 32-10 in ACC openers under coach Mike Krzyzewski, who embarked on his last conference slate before his scheduled retirement at season’s end.

Keve Aluma scored 17 of his 25 points in the first half and pulled in 10 rebounds for Virginia Tech (8-5, 0-2). Justyn Mutts had 20 points and Hunter Cattoor added 10 points for the Hokies.

Duke won for the fourth time in nine days, all at home. This was by the far the biggest challenge for the Blue Devils in their nine home games this season.

Duke shot 53.7 percent from the field despite going 5-for-15 on 3-point tries. Virginia Tech was 5-for-19 from beyond the arc.

Virginia Tech led 36-32 at halftime, but momentum changed quickly after the break even though the Hokies briefly expanded their advantage.

Banchero scored the first seven points of Duke’s 13-0 run that pushed the Blue Devils into the lead at 47-42.

Shortly after, the Blue Devils launched what became a 13-2 run, capped by Banchero’s putback of his own missed shot. That stretched the edge to 63-49 before Mutts countered with a three-point play at the 7:18 mark.

The Hokies cut the gap to 65-58, but a two-minute scoring drought curtailed the comeback as Duke expanded the gap to 12 points.

Virginia Tech has lost in each of its past nine visits to Duke, dating back to January 2009.

–Field Level Media