In the first game, Virginia presented Duke with a much stiffer challenge than they anticipated. The Cavaliers used an inspired defensive effort to contest virtually every Duke shot.
The Blue Devils struggled from the field, shooting nine-for-26 in the first half, which led to the score being tied at 27.
It was not until the second half that Duke committed to scoring inside. Kyle Singler scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to lead the way.
Virginia hung around for quite awhile. The Cavaliers trailed 46-35 with just under 10 minutes to go, when they scored nine straight points to draw within two.
The run was capped by a three-pointer from Mustapha Farrakhan with 6:24 left, but the Cavaliers did not make another shot from the field again.
Jon Scheyer survived an abysmal shooting performance to score 15 points. His three-point play with 2:30 left put the final dagger in the heart of Virginia.
Sammy Zeglinski could not recapture the magic of Thursday’s first round win. After scoring 21 points against Boston College, Zeglinski was held scoreless by the Blue Devils.
Virginia played the best defense they could against Duke, but simply did not have enough playmakers on offense to keep up in the end.
Apparently nobody told Miami they were the last-place team entering this tournament, because they sure are not playing like it.
The Hurricanes’ zone defense proved to be a bugaboo for ACC leading scorer Malcolm Delaney, who scored only seven points and missed all eight shots behind the arc.
Miami freshman Durand Scott simply took the game over down the stretch. Scott scored 12 of Miami’s final 14 points to finish with 17.
Virginia Tech started off hot, mainly because of Dorenzo Hudson. Despite missing practice all week with a sore foot, Hudson erupted for 13 points in the first seven and a half minutes to send the Hokies to a 22-12 lead.
Miami recovered by halftime, trailing 37-35 at the break.
The Hokies received a boost in the second half from Jeff Allen, who finished with 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Allen was too quick on the interior for Miami’s bigs Julian Gamble and Reggie Johnson, making several drop steps and spin moves for easy looks at the rim.
The story of the game was Delaney’s struggles. Against the 2-3 zone of Miami, Delaney hardly ever penetrated the lane, and was ice cold from the field. Whether the Hokies play in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, their opponents would be wise to take a page out of the Hurricanes’ playbook and show the Hokies a zone defense.
Miami also went deeper into their bench, playing eight guys. Seth Greenberg only played six players significant minutes, and it showed down the stretch. Despite the fact that the Hokies had a bye Thursday and Miami was playing its second game in as many days, it was the Hurricanes that had more energy in the final minutes.
Hudson disappeared after his scorching start, scoring only one point in the second half. The Hokies also shot 11-for-18 (61 percent) from the foul line, well below their season average.
It’s now onto the semifinals for Miami and Duke. The Hurricanes won’t have the same luxury of facing a poor shooting team on Saturday, as Duke shoots the three as well as anyone in America.
Still, Frank Haith’s guys are playing with too much heart this weekend to count them out of any game.