Marvin Bagley III needed almost 10 minutes to score his first points. Wendell Carter Jr. needed the entire game to get to 5 points total on Monday night.
As dominant as fifth-ranked Duke has looked lately, it couldn’t withstand the upset king of the ACC on this night. Virginia Tech, which has already knocked off top-ranked Virginia and No. 9 North Carolina, continued to shock the conference’s top teams, getting a putback basket from forward Chris Clarke with 4 seconds remaining to lift beat the Blue Devils 64-63 in Blacksburg, Va.
Duke guard Grayson Allen launched a long, last-second 3-pointer that fell short, and Bagley’s putback that went through the net was clearly after the final buzzer sounded.
There was nothing more the Blue Devils (24-6, 12-5 ACC) could do, failing to overcome a blown 15-point, first-half lead as their 5-game losing streak came to an end.
Duke had no trouble beating Virginia Tech (21-9, 10-7) only 12 days earlier, cruising to a 74-52 home win.
Returning to Grayson Allen
The good news: Allen silenced any concerns that he can’t be a dominant scorer with Bagley back in the lineup.
The 6-foot-5 guard quickly surpassed the 6 points he had in a 60-44 win against Syracuse on Saturday, scoring 11 of Duke’s first 16 points against Virginia Tech.
Allen had a stretch in the first half in which he scored 8 consecutive points in 77 seconds, making a layup and draining back-to-back 3-pointers. His fast start helped make up for a slow first half for Carter and Bagley, who combined to score only 9 points before intermission.
However, Allen lost his rhythm after the first 7 minutes and went into halftime shooting only 3 of 11, including 2 of 9 on 3-pointers.
Fortunately for the Blue Devils, he regained his shooting touch in the second half. He made his first shot of the second half and then drained a 3-pointer to give Duke a 44-35 lead with 15:06 remaining.
Allen finished with a game-high 22 points on 6-for-18 shooting. He had 6 rebounds, but he also committed 6 of Duke’s 18 turnovers.
Poor outside shooting
The Blue Devils need to find a way to snap out of their recent shooting slump from beyond the arc.
Gary Trent Jr. has struggled after finding his touch earlier this month. Allen has also had his share of misses.
Duke made only 5 of 19 3-point attempts in the first half, with Trent and Allen combining to hit just 3 of 14.
With Virginia Tech attempting to make a second-half comeback, guard Alex O’Connell drained his first shot — a 3-pointer — to extend Duke’s lead to 56-49 with 7:56 remaining.
But the Blue Devils needed a lot more help from the outside, especially on a night when Bagley and Carter weren’t so overpowering around the basket. Duke finished 8 of 28 (28.6 percent) on 3-pointers.
Trent made only 1 of 7 3-pointers and scored only 5 points. Allen, meanwhile, made 4 of 15 from beyond the arc.
Virginia Tech wasn’t any better, making just 5 of 22 3-pointers (22.7 percent). But the Hokies found ways to attack the basket and score in the paint down the stretch.
Duke missed all 10 of its 3-point attempts in the first half against Syracuse and finished 6 for 25 (24 percent) in that game.
Starting Marvin Bagley III
Bagley returned to the starting lineup, but he seemed to take a step back in his return from a mild right knee sprain.
The ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder didn’t score his first points until he threw down a dunk with 10:15 remaining in the first half. He followed it up a little more than a minute later with a tip-in off a missed 3-pointer by Allen, giving Duke a 29-14 lead.
However, Bagley was held to only 6 points and 6 rebounds in the first half while picking up a pair of early fouls. He finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds, but he and Carter weren’t their usual dominant tandem in the paint.
Carter wasn’t as aggressive as he usually is, either, scoring just 5 points and grabbing 8 rebounds while battling foul trouble.
Bagley showed no signs of rust Saturday in his first game back after missing the previous four with the knee injury. He scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 7 rebounds against the Orange.
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