How shrewd and diabolical is Mike Krzyzewski? He devised a game plan where Tyler Thornton, yes Tyler Thornton leads the Blue Devils to victory. Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg never saw that coming. Of course neither did any Duke fan or any observer of the game of basketball.
Duke's starting point guard isn't known much for shooting, or scoring but against Virginia Tech in the Quarter Finals of the ACC Tournament, the little point guard shot 5-16 and scord 13 points to help lead the Blue Devils to a 60-56 victory.
The win moves Duke into the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.
To say the victory was ugly is to be insult the very nature of what it means to be ugly. It seemed at times if both teams were conserving points instead of energy.
Virginia Tech shot 30.2 percent from the floor and Duke wasn't much better at 37 percent. Had the Hokies shot better the ending might have been different but as it stands the Blue Devils will face the winner of the Miami-Florida State game tomorrow.
Mason Plumlee had his second consecutive solid game with 12 points and 10 rebounds. And in what should come as no shock to any Duke fan Austin Rivers lead the Blue Devils in scoring with 17 points.
One thing worth noting is that Rivers played all 40 minutes of the game and in a potential three games in three days tournament that could play a factor especially with Duke missing Ryan Kelly for the entire ACC Tournament.
Duke started off quickly building and eight point lead but Virginia Tech fought back to keep the game close and lead for at least a portion of the first half.
The Blue Devils took a modest five point lead into the half and was ultimately able to hold on after pushing the lead up to as many as 10 points.
Erick Green scored 16 points to pace the Hokies but the Blue Devils did a solid job defensively on Dorenzo Hudson who only scored six points. Duke played such good defense that Green was the only starter for Virginia Tech to score in double figure and only one other Hokie managed the feat.
The win moves Duke into the semifinals and a victory there moves them to another ACC Final. The losses by Kansas and Syracuse could play a factor somewhat come Selection Sunday when it comes to No. 1 seeds, but first thing is first.
This was not a pretty victory for Duke. They shot poorly, got killed on the boards early and had some serious shot selection issues. And they are short handed so fatigue, which is always an issue in tournament play could become an issue.
But a victory in tournament play is a victory, good, bad or indifferent.
Stay tuned for more coverage from the Duke Sports Blog. Contributor Anthony Klam is in Atlanta and will offer up a preview of Saturday's semi-finals once the opponent is determined.
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