With Bagley back, surging No. 5 Duke visits Virginia Tech
It looks like fifth-ranked Duke could present another issue for Virginia Tech to contend with when the teams meet Monday night at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.
Atlantic Coast Conference scoring and rebounding leader Marvin Bagley III has returned to action and that adds to the available weapons for the Blue Devils.
"Getting Marvin back, we're trying to figure that out, it's a good thing," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Duke went 4-0 in Bagley's absence with a mild knee sprain. He was back Saturday night in a 60-44 victory against visiting Syracuse, scoring a game-high 19 points.
"I was just focused on the game," Bagley said, pointing out his knee injury wasn't an issue. "I was anxious to get back in there. ... That was the reason that I sat out a lot of the games, to make sure that I was ready to come back and play a lot (31 minutes) like that. I didn't want to come back too early and have to worry about it."
The Blue Devils developed increased roles for several players with Bagley out. Krzyzewski said the experience gained by those other players should make Duke stronger as they head into the final weeks of the season.
Just because Bagley has returned doesn't translate into an easy path, Duke senior guard Grayson Allen said.
"We can't fall into that trap of being happy about this (Syracuse) game and not be ready to go (Monday night)," Allen said. "It's important that we recover and get ready for that. We have to take care of business there."
The Blue Devils have a five-game winning streak going to a rematch with Virginia Tech.
As part of that stretch, Duke won 74-52 against the Hokies less than two weeks ago in Durham, N.C.
Duke (24-5, 12-4 ACC) holds second place in the conference, though it no longer has a shot at catching regular-season champion Virginia.
Virginia Tech (20-9, 9-7) can still rise to a top-four position in the ACC despite Saturday's home loss to Louisville. The Hokies have won four of their last six games.
Virginia Tech will have to contend with Bagley, who was sitting out his second game when the teams met previously.
Yet this time against Duke, the Hokies will be prepared to face a full game of zone defense. That wasn't the case earlier in the month.
"I did not anticipate that it would be 100 percent zone," Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said.
The Hokies struggled to find rhythm and that was compounded by standout guard Justin Robinson's foul trouble. That left Virginia Tech in an offensive funk at times.
"I didn't think we attacked that maybe as well as we should have," Williams said. "We didn't finish. ... Missed an inordinate amount of layups."
Allen didn't play in last season's loss in Blacksburg. It was the ACC opener, and he was sitting out what became a one-game suspension for a tripping incident in the previous game.
This is Virginia Tech's home finale, the conclusion of a three-game homestand. The Hokies are 13-4 at home this season, though 4-4 in ACC play.
Updated February 25, 2018
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