Duke’s first true road game of the season at Virginia Tech doubled as its ACC opener and the start of Grayson Allen’s indefinite suspension following another ugly tripping incident. This was an opportunity for Duke to flex its depth and show it doesn’t need Allen to be one of the best teams in the country.
Virginia Tech had other ideas. The Hokies pounded Duke from start to finish on their way to a 89-75 win in Blacksburg.
Duke couldn’t stop Virginia Tech’s offense all afternoon. The Hokies shot a blistering 55 percent from the field fueled by 8-of-13 shooting from three-point range.
The Hokies rode a balanced scoring attack with six players finishing in double-figures. Justin Bibbs led VT with 18 points, while Ahmed Hill had 17 points, and Seth Allen and Justin Robinson each added 14 points in the win.
Duke has big questions to ask about its lineups and its defense. The Blue Devils were shredded inside and out by VT after entering the afternoon No. 10 in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. Allen certainly wasn’t holding the defense together. Duke has to wonder if it can get enough stops to compete with the country’s best teams in March.
There were some positives for Duke in this game. Luke Kennard continued his breakout sophomore season by finishing with 34 points, while freshman stud Jayson Tatum (18 points) also played arguably the best game of his brief college career.
Allen absence will draw headlines, but VT deserves all the credit here. Buzz Williams has already transformed this program and it’s making the ACC tougher than ever.
Georgia Tech stuns North Carolina
For as strong as the ACC is this season, Georgia Tech didn’t figure to be a team ticketed for the NCAA tournament. Some even thought GT might not win a conference game this season.
So much for that. Georgia Tech shocked No. 9 North Carolina in its ACC opener 75-63 behind a great game from freshman shooting guard Josh Okogie:
First Duke, now UNC. Georgia Tech has stunned North Carolina, 75-63.— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) December 31, 2016
Huge game for freshman wing Josh Okogie who went off for 26 points pic.twitter.com/JQzMO70UoD
The story of this game was Georgia Tech’s ability to get to the foul line. The Yellow Jackets hit 28-of-33 free throws on the afternoon, while Carolina finished just 10-of-14 at the stripe.
Josh Heath finished with 15 points for Georgia Tech in the win, while teammates Quinton Stephens and Ben Lammers each added 11 points.
UNC will have to regroup on Tuesday at Clemson before playing NC State at home on Saturday.
Villanova wins battle of unbeatens against Creighton
Villanova is quickly developing into the gold standard for how to build a sustainable college basketball program. The Wildcats outlasted No. 10 Creighton 80-70 on Saturday afternoon to remain undefeated and win its 20th straight game dating back to last year.
2016 was great to the Wildcats. ‘Nova finished the calendar year at 38-3, which, if you were wondering, is pretty good.
FINAL: Villanova 80, Creighton 70. The Wildcats finish the calendar year with a 38-3 record. Nobody has ever won more in a calendar year.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) December 31, 2016
This will be known as the Jalen Brunson Game. The sophomore guard broke out with the best performance of his career, pouring in 27 points and five assists in the win.
Brunson was hitting big shots all afternoon:
Josh Hart started slow but made some huge plays late to finish with 18 points and eight rebounds. He would be college basketball's player of the year right now.
Creighton was impressive in a losing effort. Marcus Foster led the way with 22 points while center Justin Patton added 18 points.
Louisville finds its stride again against Indiana
A week ago, Louisville was staring at a three-game stretch against Kentucky-Virginia-Indiana. It’s hard to argue with a 2-1 against competition like that.
Louisville locked down on defense and hit some outside shots to defeat the Hoosiers 77-62 in Indianapolis. After only hitting two threes in its loss to Virginia, the Cardinals made 8-of-22 attempts from outside to power a great offensive performance.
Sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell led the way for Louisville with 25 points. Deng Adel added 17 points while Jaylen Johnson added 13 points and seven assists for Louisville in the win.
Dwayne Bacon carries Florida State over Virginia
We told you in the preseason this should be the best Florida State teams in two decades, and so far the Seminoles are living up to the hype. The No. 20 Seminoles just got their best win of the season, a thrilling 60-58 victory at Virginia.
The end of the game featured an incredible sequence where Virginia’s Kyle Guy hit a go-ahead three and Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon answered with a go-ahead three of his own seconds later:
What a wild finish in Charlottesville!!! Kyle Guy, baseline drive, baseline drift. But Dwayne Bacon is sizzling. 26 this half. pic.twitter.com/Om3E5gmXXz— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) December 31, 2016
Bacon was a monster, finishing with 29 points and six three-pointers. Xavier Rathan-Mayes (10 points) was Florida State’s only other double-figure scorer.
The ‘Noles move to 14-1 with the win.
Xavier outlasts Georgetown behind a big game from Edmond Sumner
Xavier point guard Edmond Sumner has had a slow start to his sophomore campaign, but there’s a reason he was considered the best NBA prospect in the Big East coming into the season.
He showed why on Saturday in leading the Musketeers to an 81-76 win over Georgetown:
Edmond Sumner doing his thing for Xavier pic.twitter.com/XYCGfALRM6— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) December 31, 2016
Sumner finished with 28 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in the win. Teammate J.P. Macura also added 23 points as Xavier improved to 12-2.