BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is starting to see, and feel, the effects of having a short-handed roster.
Jahlil Okafor scored a career-best 30 points, including four in overtime, and Quinn Cook scored 21 of his 26 in the second half and overtime Wednesday night as No. 4 Duke survived at Virginia Tech 91-86, the Blue Devils’ eighth straight victory.
“I’ve had to really tone down the practices and as a result you get slippage, and the main slippage is in defense when you don’t practice as much,” Krzyzewski said, noting that when Okafor was sidelined this week by a left ankle sprain, the Blue Devils had just seven healthy players for practice. “We’re in it for the long haul and we have to do these things.”
They did them just in time against a Hokies team desperately seeking a signature victory.
“We finally participated at the level we needed to do to be worthy of winning,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m glad we turned it on for the last 15 minutes of regulation and then overtime.”
Okafor also grabbed nine rebounds and showed no ill effects of the sprained left ankle that caused him to miss the Blue Devils’ last game. Justise Winslow added 15 points for Duke (25-3, 12-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Jalen Hudson scored a career-high 23 points for Virginia Tech (10-18, 2-13), but missed a layup in the final seconds of regulation that could have given the Hokies their first victory against a ranked team in more than two years.
The performance came after coach Buzz Williams used Hudson for just one offensive possession in the Hokies’ loss at North Carolina State last Saturday, and for just nine minutes in the game before that.
“He’s the most talented guy on our roster but he doesn’t have the work ethic on a consistent basis that he has to have,” Williams said.
Adam Smith added 15 points for the Hokies and Devin Wilson had 10 points and 11 assists.
Both teams shot well all night, with Duke at 59.3 percent (35 for 59) and the Hokies at 53.4 percent (31 for 58).
The game featured 15 lead changes, but Okafor scored inside and made two free throws around Ahmed Hill’s 3-pointer for the Hokies to start overtime. Okafor then missed two free throws, but Winslow scored inside and Cook made his sixth 3. His two free throws made it 87-82 and the Hokies never caught up.
Late in regulation, the Hokies led 75-71, but the Blue Devils scored six straight to go ahead and Justin Bibbs tied it with a jumper with 50 seconds left. Neither team scored again, with Hudson being denied with about 4 seconds to play.
Hill and Smith hit 3s to open the second half for the Hokies, extending their run spanning the half to 16-4 and giving them a 45-37 lead with about 19 minutes to go.
Duke used a 13-3 run fueled by two 3s from Cook and one from Matt Jones to regain the lead at 64-60. The Hokies, however, answered with consecutive 3s of their own, from Bibbs and Smith, and it was back-and-forth the rest of the way, keeping it close and keeping the crowd whipped into a frenzy.
Early on, it looked like the game would go a different way.
The Blue Devils led 15-4 after 6 1/2 minutes and just the second sellout crowd of the season at Cassell Coliseum began looking for something to cheer. It came in the form of a dunk by Hudson, followed shortly thereafter by a 13-5 run that pulled Virginia Tech to within 24-22.
The Hokies pulled even at 33 on a jumper by Bibbs, then went ahead on a free throw by Wilson. The point guard scored the Hokies’ last six points of the half as Virginia Tech led 39-37.
Duke: Okafor, who missed the Blue Devils’ last game with a left ankle injury, showed no ill effects, hitting 7 of 8 shots in the first half. He finished 13 for 18 and had all his production in 37 minutes. … Krzyzewski used seven player, but Grayson Allen played just 7 minutes and Marshall Plumlee played six. … Cook has played 209 of 210 minutes in Duke’s last five games.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies, who play at No. 2 Virginia on Saturday, are facing teams ranked in the top 5 in consecutive games for the second time in program history. They played No. 5 South Carolina and No. 3 North Carolina consecutively in a tournament on Dec. 5-6, 1997.
Hudson scored nine consecutive point for the Hokies in the first half, and had a sequence in the second ha;lf opn which he was awarded a basket because of goaltending, block Okafor’s shot at the other end and then scored on a drive.
Duke: Hosts Syracuse on Saturday.
Virginia Tech: At No. 2 Virginia on Saturday.
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