Analysis: Duke basketball cruises past Virginia Tech without Marvin Bagley III

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski has seen in the last four days that his team can win without freshman phenom Marvin Bagley III.

While it helps to have the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder in the lineup, the 12th-ranked Blue Devils can find other ways to win — especially when the outside shots are falling. That was the case Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

With guard Grayson Allen turning in his best shooting effort in a while, Duke turned an 8-point halftime lead into an easy 74-52 win against Virginia Tech, which was hoping to knock off another top ACC team following its upset of No. 1 Virginia on Saturday.

But Allen, Gary Trent Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. didn’t give the Hokies (18-8, 7-6 ACC) much of a chance to stun the Cameron Crazies. It was the second straight win for the Blue Devils (21-5, 9-4).

The Duke trio drained 3-pointers, sparked a second-half rally and made up for the loss of Bagley, who missed his second straight game because of a mild right knee sprain.

Allen, who has been struggling through a shooting slump, broke out of it by hitting 7 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 25 points. Trent added 19 points with 5-of-9 3-point shooting, helping to clear the way for Carter to have another double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Relying on outside shooting

Duke has arguably the best front-court tandem in the nation in Bagley and Carter.

However, with Bagley sidelined, the Blue Devils relied more on their outside shooting than their typical dominance in the paint against Virginia Tech.

Allen and Trent found their shooting touch early on, combining to hit 7 3-pointers on only 13 attempts in the first half.

While they got some open looks at the basket, they also managed to knock down contested 3-pointers. Allen hit a desperation 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and two defenders around him to give Duke a 23-18 lead Trent drained a pair of 3-pointers as he scored 10 of Duke’s first 20 points.

Duke shot 45.5 percent (15 of 33) from beyond the arc in the game.

Even guard Trevon Duval got in on the action. The freshman, who returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in an 80-69 win against Georgia Tech on Sunday, hit a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 10 points.

The Blue Devils shot 44.4 percent from beyond the arc in the first half, the same as Virginia Tech — except the Hokies only attempted 9 3-pointers.

Shutting down the Hokies

Virginia Tech came into Wednesday with plenty of confidence following its 61-60 overtime win at Virginia.

However, it didn’t last long on Valentine’s Day.

While the Hokies managed to hit enough shots to hang with Duke early on, their offense struggled after halftime and the deficit grew down the stretch.

Virginia Tech was outscored 38-24  in the second half and didn’t look at all like the team that had so easily knocked off North Carolina 80-69 on Jan. 22.

Guard Justin Bibbs was the only Hokies’ player to score in double figures with 15 points. He made 6 of 7 shots, but the rest of the team hit just 15 of 42.

To make matters worse, Virginia Tech was out-rebounded 36-19.

Cutting down on turnovers

Duke committed 11 turnovers against Georgia Tech.

The Blue Devils had 7 turnovers in the first 8 minutes against Virginia Tech.

As sloppy as Duke’s players were with the basketball early on, though, they managed to get it under control and committed only 6  turnovers the rest of the game.

In doing so, they prevented the Hokies from getting too many fast-break opportunities and points off turnovers.

With Virginia Tech unable to hit shots or force many turnovers in the second half, Duke pulled away down the stretch.

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