|Date of game: 3/9/2012
Recap: Duke vs. Virginia Tech
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Austin Rivers scored 17 points and three-time defending champion Duke opened the ACC Tournament with a 60-56 quarterfinal win over Virginia Tech on Friday.
Tyler Thornton had 13 points and Mason Plumlee added 12 and 10 rebounds for the sixth-ranked Blue Devils (27-5).
Despite the absence of Ryan Kelly for the entire tourney, Duke won its 10th straight ACC Tournament game and advanced to play No. 17 Florida State in Saturday's semifinals.
"A lot of people are doubting us now because Ryan is gone," said Duke sophomore forward Josh Hairston. "Don't get me wrong, it's hard to replace a guy like Ryan Kelly, but this presents opportunities for other guys to step up and that's what we do."
Erick Green and Robert Brown both scored 16 to pace the Hokies (16-17), who defeated Clemson in Thursday's opening round.
Green made a jumper before the break and opened the second half with a three- pointer to pull Virginia Tech within two, 31-29.
But the Blue Devils methodically took control. They outscored the Hokies 17-9 over the next 11-plus minutes to build a double-digit advantage.
Mason Plumlee had six points over that span and Seth Curry scored five, capping it with a layup to make it 48-38 with 8:32 to play.
It was 55-47 with under three minutes left when Green made a pair of free throws. Brown then drove on the Hokies' next possession, made a bank shot and drew the foul. But he missed the ensuing free throw, keeping the deficit at four, 55-51.
After a Duke miss, Green was off on a jumper and the long rebound went to a streaking Rivers, who made a layup on the other end and was fouled. He hit the free throw to make it 58-51 and seal the Blue Devils' win with 15 seconds left.
Neither team was able to firmly grasp control in the first half.
The Hokies were up 18-17 near the midway point when Rivers put the Blue Devils on top with a tip-in.
They would not relinquish the advantage the rest of the way. Hairston sandwiched a pair of buckets around a Rivers free throw for a 31-24 lead shortly before the break when Green responded with a jumper at the buzzer, making it 31-26.
"We had some turnovers in the second half that probably cost us a chance to really be in a position to win the game," said Hokies coach Seth Greenberg. "We competed really hard, and physically we just couldn't at times rebound the ball with them. I thought we played hard and gave ourselves a chance to win. We just didn't make the plays we needed to do to beat a team that is that good."Game Notes
Duke's 91 victories are the most in ACC Tournament history...The Blue Devils have won four straight over the Hokies and lead the all-time series, 40-8...Kelly, who averages 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds and started 19 of 31 games this season, has a sprained foot.