Duke presents daunting task for Hokies

Tech hasn’t won in Durham, N.C., in five years

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BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech basketball fans have grown accustomed lately to watching their team’s games come down to the wire. Recent history dictates that won’t be the case Saturday.

The Hokies travel to Durham, N.C., where they haven’t won in over five years, to play a Duke team that has bested them in six of the last seven meetings, with five of those losses coming by double digits.

“Duke’s real good,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said this week, offering an obvious observation about the No. 5-ranked Blue Devils. “I think they’ve improved since the last time we played them.”

That last meeting saw Duke (24-4, 11-2 ACC) rout Tech 75-60 at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va. Today’s game is at notoriously-imposing Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Blue Devils are 12-2 this year.

The Hokies (15-13, 4-9) are 1-17 all-time at Duke, with their only win coming on Jan. 6, 2007. That was a 69-57 overtime thriller.

Virginia Tech freshman forward C.J. Barksdale said playing at Cameron is something he’s wanted to do since he was a child. But Barksdale said he isn’t letting the day overwhelm him. And he said his older teammates haven’t been talking much to the younger players about what to expect. They’re all treating it like business as usual.

“I’m excited to play there. It’s been a dream of mine to play in Cameron,” Barksdale said. “But I’m not letting all that get to me. I’m just getting ready to go out there and play.”

Greenberg said he isn’t worried about how his youthful team will handle the Cameron Crazies. He’s more concerned with how they’ll matchup with blue-clad athletes on the court.

“I haven’t talked about it at all,” Greenberg said. “I’m more concerned with our team. They’ve played in hostile environments. … They’ve seen it on TV. Me saying, ‘Boy, I’ll tell you one thing, Doe-Doe [freshman Dorian Finney-Smith’s nickname], they’re probably going to have something funny to say about you.’ … Except if you’re sitting on the bench and you hear something that’s pretty funny, it has no effect. It really doesn’t.”

And on the court the Blue Devils are a handful.

Freshman guard Austin Rivers is one of four players averaging in double figures. Rivers leads Duke at 15.2 points per game, followed by junior guard Seth Curry (13.4 ppg.)

“I think Curry’s playing probably the best he’s played since he’s been there,” Greenberg said. “I think Rivers is shooting the ball really consistently.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge today for the Hokies will be keeping Duke off the glass. Brothers Mason and Miles Plumlee and 6-foot-11 Ryan Kelly have helped the Blue Devils grab the fourth-most boards per game at 36.8.

“I think the Plumlees, as a tandem, obviously are tough to keep off the glass,” Greenberg said. “They’re rebounding the ball on the offensive end at a really, really high level right now. Just absolutely attacking the glass right now.”

Tech’s job is made all the more difficult by the fact that it will most likely play without injured senior forward Victor Davila, who has been out with what doctors initially thought was an injured groin, but now is believed to be a joint issue. Greenberg said Davila did not respond to a pain-killing injection on Wednesday.

Read more about the Hokies at VTeffect.com

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