Duke Basketball: Blue Devils struggle without Allen in loss to Hokies

Duke basketball dropped it’s first ACC contest against Virginia Tech, 89-75.

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With Grayson Allen missing the first game of his indefinite suspension, Duke struggled to score and lacked effort on defense in a 89-75 loss to Virginia Tech that was much more one-sided than the score would indicate.

Luke Kennard had an incredible individual effort as he finished with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting and seven rebounds. Jayson Tatum dropped 18 and grabbed seven rebounds of his own in the loss, and freshman Harry Giles scored his first collegiate points in 13 minutes off the bench.

For the Hokies, Justin Bibbs led the way with 18 points while five other players finished in double-digits. As you might expect from those numbers, Virginia Tech finished with an impressive 18 assists, 10 more than the Blue Devils were able to rack up.

Duke started the game going 0-of-7 from the field, allowing Virginia Tech to build an 8-0 lead in the first four minutes. The Hokies would go up by 14 at one point, as Duke struggled to hit easy shots and finish at the rim. Their play early on suggests that Allen’s absence is detrimental to the team’s success, not only because of his ability to score, but his skills as a floor leader.

Virginia Tech looked much more explosive, and by sharing the ball, they were able to scorch the Blue Devil defense for 47 in the first half. They finished the half by going 8-of-13 from three (61.5 percent) and made over half their shots from the field.

The second half would continue in the same fashion, with the Hokies going up by as many as 18 points with less than four minutes to play. Kennard continued to hit shots and get to the foul line, but Duke would still finish the game with a 14-point loss in what was clearly their worst outing of the season.

After the loss, Allen was officially stripped of his captainship by head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils are searching for some leadership at this point in the season.

With big games coming up against a hot Georgia Tech team, who just took down UNC, and No. 20 Florida State, Duke will need to figure out how to win without Allen sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will look to remain undefeated in conference play with games against NC State, FSU and Syracuse coming up in early January.

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