Sports

Virginia Tech, seventh seed, annoys Duke, Coach K by ACC title

NEW YORK – For the second Saturday night in a row, Duke failed to deliver the victory to Coach K.

This time it was Virginia Tech playing party poop.

Hunter Cattoor scored 31 points, the record of his career, and Hokies, seventh seed, won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament for the first time, beating Duke 82-67 to deny Mike Krzyzewski the league title in his last season.

Virginia Tech (23-12) arrived in Brooklyn in need of a run to play in the NCAA Tournament, and then was watching the elimination on Wednesday night when Darius Maddox hit a triple on the bell to beat Clemson in overtime.

Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said the Hokies were “luckier than hell” after that game.

After beating Duke, how did he feel?

“Rewarding,” Young said.

The Hokies became only the second ACC team to take the crown with four wins in four days and the least ranked team to win the best-known conference tournament in college basketball.

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I am also the fourth ACC champion to win the title by beating all three seeded heads.

Duke missed Coach K’s last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium against his North Carolina rival a week ago, derailing what the school hoped would be a celebration of the most successful Division I men’s college basketball coach.

The Blue Devils (28-6), ranked first and seventh, had another chance to win a good win and add at least one more trophy to the case of the retiring Hall of Fame member. Again it wasn’t going to be.

“I tell them all the time, ‘Don’t worry about me,'” Krzyzewski said. “Even in a moment of defeat I want to be there with them. How do we use it? How do we improve?”

Krzyzewski did his best to protect his team from all the attention he gets from his last lap.

“Last weekend there was a lot of talk about it. So it was a very complicated weekend,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is eliminate everything. These are young people. I loved training them. I think we can be good in the tournament (NCAA). I was very positive with them afterwards. “

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When Justyn Mutts made a two-handed slam on Duke’s new star Paolo Banchero with 2:26 left in the second half, Virginia Tech led 76-64 and the Hokies fans, outnumbered, rose to roars.

“The next dead ball went to the group and it was like, ‘We can taste it. We can taste it now,'” said Storm Murphy baseman.

Virginia Tech’s first ACC championship since joining the conference in 2004 has been sealed.

Shortly after Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” the Hokies’ unofficial fight song, sounded all over the Barclays Center, and Virginia Tech fans sang as if it were the fourth quarter at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Banchero scored 20 points for Duke, who shot 4 of 20 from the 3-point range and allowed the Hokies to make 50% of their shots.

The last and only title in the Virginia Tech conference tournament came in 1979 when the Hokies were in the Metro Conference.

Young has led Wofford to five Southern Conference Tournament titles in 17 seasons. It only took him three seasons to get his first with Virginia Tech and he did it with a list full of guys he recruited to play at his old school.

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Murphy and Keve Aluma (19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists) are both transferred from Wofford and Cattoor was willing to go to school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, out of high school before Young took on the job of Virginia Tech.

“These guys have proven to be in a very good league, the Southern Conference,” Young said. “All three were very good players. They’re old, they’re strong, they’re tough. They’re very, very skilled.”

Meanwhile, Krzyzewski was denied his 16th title ACC in his 42nd season.

The Barclays Center is a long way from Cameron, both literally and figuratively, but Duke fans went out of their way to make it feel like a home game for the Blue Devils.

Still, nothing has been easy for Duke this week. The Blue Devils had no lead at halftime in any of the games at Barclays Center.

On Saturday night, with a three-and-a-half drop, Duke started the second half with a sloppy ball loss in attack and then gave up a tray.

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Krzyzewski’s 35 minutes into the match seemed wasted, as the shot was both short and off target.

The reprimand did not work out. Cattoor made his sixth 3 and then made a steal that turned into an outdated three-point game with a tray.

That put the Hokies up 55-45 less than five minutes before the break.

Duke didn’t back down, but every time the Blue Devils pressed, the Hokies responded.

When Cattoor made his seventh 3 from the top of the arc with 6:05 to play, the Hokies went up 70-60 and it became clear that this was Virginia Tech night to celebrate.

Cattoor was 7 of 9 from the 3-point range, 11 of 16 overall.

Krzyzewski praised the way the youth moves without the ball. “He had a Klay Thompson night,” he said.

BIG IMAGE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies were 2-7 at one point in the ACC play, but ended up with a kick, going 13-2 to get out of the bubble.

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“I knew when they got together it was going to be something beautiful and they got together,” Young said. “I didn’t think this would end, but we’re not going to give it back.”

Duke: Krzyzewski entered the tournament worrying about his team’s defense and then played three unstable games at that end in Brooklyn. He still believes there is time to turn it around.

“Very confident because we will be able to practice,” Krzyzewski said, noting that the youth Blue Devils have only had one practice since the North Carolina game.

THE NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season.

Duke: The Blue Devils are probably looking at a No. 3 seed when support is put on Sunday.

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Virginia Tech, seventh seed, annoys Duke, Coach K by ACC title

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