DURHAM Senior night festivities for Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry started Monday night when Mike and Mickie Krzyzewski and their daughters took them out to dinner.
Before the game Tuesday, Plumlee paid attention to every song the pep band played, trying to soak in the sights and sounds of his last game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. So when the ball was tipped, it wasnt easy to cancel out the background noise and focus on the game.
Its hard, Plumlee said, until you realize youre about to lose. At halftime I think we got our heads on straight.
No. 3 Duke did play much better in the second half of the 85-57 ACC win against Virginia Tech. After the game, coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked to reflect on having three great players still around as seniors, and he did so happily.
Then a reporter asked him about Dukes defense on Erick Green.
We transitioned (that) quick, Krzyzewski said.
Green, the nations leading scorer with an average of 25 points, did score 25, including several long jumpers that kept the last-place Hokies (13-17, 4-13) within reach for 30 minutes.
His 13 second-half points were all tough shots, and he said after the game that Duke defended him better than any other team this season.
We made Green take tough shots, Curry said. He made tough shots, but we made him take tough shots.
Duke (26-4, 13-4) did not make Virginia Tech take tough shots early on, as ball screens freed the Hokies for open jumpers and easy drives through the paint.
The Hokies started hot, making their first three shots for a quick 8-1 lead. Virginia Tech shot better than 50 percent from the field for the first 13 minutes of the game and went into halftime down just 38-35.
The Hokies had an 18-10 edge in points in the paint after one half and also pulled down nine offensive rebounds, just one fewer than Dukes 10 defensive boards on the same glass.
We were a little sluggish because we started off bad, not making shots, Curry said.
At halftime, Krzyzewski let his team know the defense would have to be better.
Yeah, yeah that was something he definitely said we need to work out and fix, Kelly said.
Duke did tighten the defense considerably, as the Hokies shot 32 percent from the field in the second half. Virginia Tech was also limited to eight second-half points in the paint and four offensive rebounds.
The opening minutes of the second half were key for Duke. The Blue Devils went to Plumlee on the first two possessions, and he finished the second with a slam. The Blue Devils hit five of their first six shots in the half, including two Curry 3-pointers that brought Krzyzewski off the bench to fire up the crowd.
The second Curry 3 an off-balanced, one-foot beauty prompted a Virginia Tech timeout, as the Hokies trailed by double digits for the first time all night at 51-39.
Curry led Duke with 20 points, including 5-of-9 3-pointers. Kelly, playing his second game since missing eight weeks with a right foot injury, was again Dukes best player, finishing with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and also team-highs of nine rebounds and five assists (tied with Plumlee).
Quinn Cook and Plumlee also had 14 points apiece.