Virginia Tech-Duke Preview
Buzz Williams knew when he took the job that he'd have to be patient during his attempt to build Virginia Tech into an ACC contender.
The Hokies aren't there yet, but an upset win over their biggest rival certainly is a major step in the process.
Virginia Tech hasn't started 3-0 in conference play since it last won at Duke in 2007, a feat it can accomplish by avoiding a ninth straight loss to the 14th-ranked Blue Devils on Saturday.
Williams left Marquette for Blacksburg and went 11-22 with a 2-16 mark in the ACC in his first season. The Hokies (10-5, 2-0) are on the verge of matching that win total already after Monday's 70-68 home victory over No. 4 Virginia.
Virginia Tech beat North Carolina State 73-68 in overtime in last Saturday's conference opener, overcoming a 16-point deficit. It hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2006-07, the last time it last started 3-0 in the ACC.
"When you show up as David every day against Goliath, you just kind of have a demeanor or a spirit of, 'Well, we have to fight again,'" Williams said. ''I don't think that we're good enough for it to be pure basketball. I think it has to be more of a fight, pseudo basketball, because that's what gives us our best chance.''
The Hokies beat their rivals despite the Cavaliers shooting 49 percent, their first victory over an opponent that shot at least that well since Feb. 18, 2012. Zach LeDay scored 22 points and Justin Bibbs added 16 for Virginia Tech, which committed eight turnovers and forced 16.
"I'm not surprised at all," said LeDay, who's in his first season with the Hokies after transferring from South Florida. "We play to win games. I came here to win games. It's not surprising. We just need to keep on fighting and keep on working every day and keep on attacking practice with the same mindset. If we do that, we're going to keep winning."
The Hokies nearly stunned eventual national champion Duke in the only meeting last season but fell 91-86 in overtime at home. They've lost eight straight matchups since a home victory Feb. 26, 2011, and five consecutive visits to Cameron Indoor Stadium since last winning there Jan. 6, 2007.
The Blue Devils (13-2, 2-0) enter this contest having won four straight by an average of 23.5 points. Grayson Allen scored 24 and freshman Luke Kennard added 23 in Wednesday's 91-75 rout of Wake Forest.
Kennard was the only one to play more than eight minutes off the bench in a rotation that coach Mike Krzyzewski has had to alter since Amile Jefferson fractured his foot. The senior forward has missed the last six and is out indefinitely.
''There's nobody to sub in,'' Krzyzewski said. ''We're literally on an edge all the time. Our guys have to realize that, and they have to play, not conservatively, but smart.''
Marshall Plumlee went 7 for 7 from the field and finished with a career-high 18 points after not attempting a shot in 34 minutes in last Saturday's win at Boston College.
"Coach believes in me just like he believes in every one of us,'' Plumlee said. ''And when you have belief of your teammates and a great coaching staff, you feel like you can take on the world.''
Plumlee and Allen are the only two remaining from Duke's win over Virginia Tech last season when they combined for six points - all from Allen - in 13 minutes. Jalen Hudson scored 23 points in the loss.