The mayor of Blacksburg, Va., might want to consider making February 26 a national holiday.
It seems to be a magical day for the Hokies’ men’s basketball team.
Tuesday evening made it third time Virginia Tech has beaten a Duke team ranked in the Top 5 of the AP Poll on that day. The No. 20 Hokies fought and clawed with the No. 3 Blue Devils for 40 minutes and came out on top, 77-72 at home.
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For the record, the other two times Virginia Tech pulled off its upsets over Duke on Feb. 26 came in 2011 and 2018. Virginia Tech has also won three in a row against Duke at home.
The Hokies led for nearly 33 minutes, but the game was tied with about 90 seconds to play. But Ty Outlaw buried a 3-pointer, Duke missed its next shot and Nickeil Alexander-Walker swished a pair of free throws to put the Hokies up by 5. Duke scored on its next possession, but then Kerry Blackshear Jr. made two foul shots to seal the win.
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It was a big night for Kerry Blackshear Jr.
One of the reasons Virginia Tech (22-6 overall, 11-5 ACC) beat Duke (24-4, 12-3 ACC) was because the Hokies had Blackshear and the Blue Devils didn’t.
Oh what a feeling 🤟#getBETTER | #Hokies 🦃 pic.twitter.com/ijnoRCqEvO— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) February 27, 2019
Blackshear, a junior forward from Orlando, Fla., finished with 23 points on 11 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds. And while he made big shots, two of the biggest plays he made came off the glass, as he grabbed three rebounds — one offensive and two defensive — in the final minute of the game. Blackshear also connected on the final free throws of the game to seal the win for the Hokies.
It marked the fourth straight game that Blackshear had scored at least 20 points.
The Hokies had strong defense
Another reason the Hokies won is because they were locked in defensively.
Virginia Tech forced Duke into 12 turnovers, and then the Hokies scored 13 points off those turnovers. The Blue Devils also shot just 33 percent from 3-point range.
DOWN GOES DUKE!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 27, 2019
No. 20 Virginia Tech takes down No. 3 Duke, the 3rd straight win for the Hokies over the Dukies in Blacksburg! pic.twitter.com/xoYpOLQtfF
In all, the Hokies tallied six steals, a block and 21 defensive rebounds.
For Virginia Tech, the win puts them in fourth place in the ACC standings, a half-game ahead of No. 18 Florida State. If the Hokies can keep their place in the standings, they’ll get a first-round bye in the ACC tournament next month. Their 11 ACC wins are already a school record.
In Duke’s case, the loss boots it from a three-way tie atop the ACC with Virginia and North Carolina. With UNC beating Syracuse on Tuesday, it leads Duke by one game and Virginia by 1/2 a game. But Virginia can move into a tie with UNC on Wednesday with a win against Georgia Tech.
Looking ahead to the final games of the regular season, Duke plays at home against Miami on Saturday, home vs. Wake Forest on March 5 and then at rival North Carolina on March 9.
Duke-Virginia Tech: Score, live updates, stats