Vir­ginia Tech nips No. 5 Duke 64-63

Starkville Daily News - - NATIONAL COLLEGE BASKETBALL - By HANK KURZ, JR. As­so­ci­ated Press

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Nick­eil Alexan­der-Walker's emo­tions changed in a heart­beat — not once, but twice.

The fresh­man guard at Vir­ginia Tech took what he thought would be the game-win­ning shot. Then he saw it sail over the rim en­tirely. Then he saw team­mate Chris Clarke col­lect the re­bound and lay it back in, giv­ing the Hok­ies a stun­ning 64-63 come­back vic­tory over No. 5 Duke.

"It was in the air, I was like, 'Oh my God. I'm about to hit it,'" Alexan­der-Walker said. Then? "Oooooh, and then, yeah!"

Clarke's mind was work­ing over­time, too, as he grabbed the re­bound.

"Def­i­nitely you can't miss that layup or it looks re­ally bad," he said of the put­back with 4 sec­onds left, which gave Vir­ginia Tech its first lead since the open­ing min­utes. "I wouldn't say nerve-wrack­ing. I just knew I had to make it."

Be­cause he did, the Hok­ies gained an­other sig­na­ture vic­tory to en­hance their NCAA Tour­na­ment cre­den­tials. Clarke said they haven't talked about that as a team, even with pun­dits seem­ing very much on the fence as to whether they have done enough or not.

"We know we're not done yet," Clarke said. "But we know it's a booster."

The Hok­ies (21-9, 10-7 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) also have home wins against No. 9 North Carolina and No. 18 Clem­son, and a road vic­tory at top-ranked Vir­ginia. They got this one by hold­ing Duke with­out a field goal for the fi­nal seven min­utes of the game, snap­ping the Blue Devils' five-game win­ning streak.

"I thought we played re­ally tired tonight," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, not­ing that it was his team's fourth game in eight days.

The Blue Devils com­mit­ted 18 turnovers, and the Hok­ies turned them into 24 points. Duke turned 12 Tech mis­cues into just six points.

"Part of it for us was to make them a half-court team, and we did un­less we turned it over," Krzyzewski said.

Alexan­der-Walker led the Hok­ies with 17 points, Justin Bibbs had 14 on his Se­nior Night and Kerry Black­s­hear Jr. added 13.

Grayson Allen led Duke (24-6, 12-5) with 22 points, but his 3-point try be­fore the buzzer missed. Wen­dell Carter Jr. grabbed the re­bound, but the clock ran out be­fore his layup went through.

When of­fi­cials sig­naled that the bas­ket didn't count, fans streamed out of the stands onto the Cas­sell Coli­seum floor.

The Blue Devils used an early 19-3 run to quiet the crowd and open a 29-14 lead, but the Hok­ies al­most im­me­di­ately re­sponded by scor­ing 11 straight points, with Alexan­der-Walker get­ting the first seven and Bibbs the last four. The Blue Devils' lead was 33-27 at half­time.

(Photo by Matt Gen­try, The Roanoke Times, AP) Petersen, AP) (Photo by Don

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