No. 10 Duke braces for ACC opener at Virginia Tech

NCAA Basketball
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Duke is coming off what seemed like a monumental victory in regular-season terms.

Now the No. 10 Blue Devils are right back at it with their Atlantic Coast Conference opener Friday night against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

Duke didn’t have much time to soak in the impact of its 87-75 road win Tuesday night at No. 11 Michigan State, which also has been defeated by Virginia Tech this season.

“A huge win, but that doesn’t mean you’ve arrived,” Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Now we’ve got to put that behind us very quickly.”

This will be Duke’s ACC opener as the Blue Devils (8-1) are the lone team in the league that didn’t play a conference game during the first week of the season.

Virginia Tech (6-2, 1-0 ACC) plays its first conference home game under first-year coach Mike Young.

The Hokies opened the season by winning at Clemson, so it has held a spot in the upper portion of the standings since then. This is a 20-game league regular season for the first time.

Krzyzewski has expressed disappointment in the ACC’s scheduling, with a late-night game Tuesday at Michigan State and then a league road game Friday.

“It is really not a good scheduling thing by our conference,” he said.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech hasn’t played this week as it was the only ACC team not participating in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Since defeating Michigan State in the Maui Invitational, Virginia Tech dropped its next two games in the tournament with double-digit setbacks to Dayton and BYU.

“You take the good with the bad,” Hokies redshirt freshman guard Landers Nolley II said. “You learn from both. You add what you need to add going forward and you move on.”

Virginia Tech experienced some defensive glitches in its past two games, something that hadn’t surfaced in the first couple of weeks of the season.

“We’ve got a lot to talk about,” Young said of the defensive end. “Got to guard a little bit better.”

The Hokies have defeated Duke at home the past three seasons. The Blue Devils won last March’s NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinal matchup in Washington, D.C.

This season, Duke has won two games since the stunning upset loss at home to Stephen F. Austin, an outcome that sent the Blue Devils plummeting from a No. 1 national ranking.

Duke was picked as the preseason ACC favorite, while Virginia Tech was tabbed 14th.

The Hokies’ stature probably has improved with the emergence of Nolley, who averages 20.0 points per game. Nolley, who has scored in double figures in every game, has received conference Freshman of the Week honors twice and was selected to the Maui Invitational all-tournament team.

Duke freshman Vernon Carey Jr. is averaging 19.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per outing with seven consecutive double-doubles. Carey tops the league in field-goal percentage by making 60 percent of his attempts.

“Our guys look for him, but really for a freshman, especially for a big guy, to have that poise in the post is commendable,” Krzyzewski said.

Virginia Tech will play all five of its December games at home.

–Field Level Media

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