BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech’s Justin Bibbs scored 18 points, and the Hokies led from start to finish in upsetting No. 5 Duke 89-75 at Virginia Tech Carilion Court on Saturday in the ACC opener for both teams.
The win marked Tech’s eighth straight and snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Blue Devils. The Hokies moved to 12-1 overall, 1-0 in league play, while Duke fell to 12-2, 0-1.
Bibbs hit 6 of 9 from the field, including a season-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies, who won their 14th straight home game since last season. Tech hasn’t lost since a 68-65 defeat to Texas A&M on Nov. 25 at the Wooden Legacy tournament held in Fullerton, California.
The Hokies dominated from start to finish against Duke, jumping out to a 47-31 halftime lead. The Blue Devils got as close to 52-41 in the second half after a 3-pointer by Luke Kennard with 15:29 remaining.
But Bibbs responded, scoring three straight baskets in a 7-0 run to push Virginia Tech’s lead to 59-41. Duke got no closer.
“I think that we started better today that we had in the previous two games, not only offensively, but I thought that we started better as far as our mentality and defensively,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “I thought there were gaps where the sustainability was better. I don’t think we’re to the point that we played 40 minutes, but I don’t know that any coach would say in game 13 that, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect.’ I think that we have a long way to go and the weight of this game is the same as the weight of our next game.”
Bibbs entered the game shooting just 36.8 percent. He had made just 1 of 13 in the Hokies’ previous two games, including an outing in which he went scoreless (Charleston Southern) for the first time in his career. But he set season highs in field goals, 3-pointers and points against Duke.
“There was no difference, really,” Bibbs said. “I got in the gym, got a lot of shots with my coaches. My teammates still believed in me even when I wasn’t making shots. Today, they were still believing in me, and I just happened to knock them down.”
Ahmed Hill had 17 points for Tech, which shot 55.2 percent (32 of 58). The points and shooting percentage were the best by a Duke opponent this season.
Seth Allen and Justin Robinson added 14 points each.
Kennard paced the Blue Devils with 34 points. Duke played without preseason All-America Grayson Allen, who was suspended indefinitely by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski after tripping an Elon player on Dec. 21 — the third such incident in Allen’s career.
“I really feel like the two teams played like the way they’ve been playing. Virginia Tech has been playing really good basketball,” Krzyzewski said. “Continuity, good eight-man rotation, feed off of one another. That’s how they played today. A very unselfish team, 18 assists. A tough team to guard.
“We played like we’ve been playing – without continuity. We haven’t played well since before exams, and that continued. We had some good practices when we returned from Christmas, but it’s not enough.”
Tech next travels to Raleigh, North Carolina for just its second true road game of the season when it takes on NC State on Wednesday. The Hokies haven’t won in Raleigh since 2011. The game tips off at 9 p.m.