Duke fell behind by as many as 18 points in the first half at Virginia Tech, then staged a desperate rally, cutting the score to one point in the second half. The Blue Devils came up short against the Hokies, however, suffering their first ACC loss of the season, 74-67.
”We were just trying to get our energy up,” said freshman point guard Jeremy Roach. “The first 20 minutes, we weren’t really playing with much energy, so just trying to create some energy for ourselves and get some stops on the defensive end – trying to speed them up.”
The Hokies jumped out to an 11-2 lead, and Duke spent the rest of the night trying to dig out of the early hole.
“Like I said, there was no energy,” Roach said. “We were just playing lax. We were letting them come into us. We weren’t being the aggressor. We were just doing everything wrong. Finally, late in the first half, we started making a little push and then obviously in the second half, we made our run. Just playing for 40 minutes, that’s the big key for us.”
Virginia Tech seemingly couldn’t miss in the first half, hitting 63.3 percent of its shots and knocking down 4-of-7 from three. Duke tried to pressure the Hokies, but it took awhile to find a defense that worked.
“Definitely,” Roach said. “We really try to pick up full-court, but if that’s not what we’re doing too well and we need more energy, then we’re going to go to that press – that 2-2-1.”
Roach scored 22 points to lead the Blue Devils. Another bright spot for Duke was the return of freshman Jalen Johnson, who had missed the last three games with a foot injury. Johnson logged four minutes in the game as he tries to work back into game shape.
“It was great to have him back,” Roach said. “He gave us a little boost. We’re just trying to get him healthy and get him back to normal and we’re going to keep going from there.”