While Kyle Filipowski was taking an unobstructed yet unintended strike to the throat on Monday night, Duke men’s basketball was absorbing another vicious body blow to its season.
No, the 78-75 loss to Virginia Tech was not a knockout punch, even if it felt like it. Nor has it changed the Blue Devils’ postseason trajectory. Not even a little bit. Despite another road defeat, this time to an ACC foe that entered the week on a seven-game losing streak with one conference win – an 80-72 victory over UNC on Dec. 4 – Duke (14-6, 4-4 ACC) only dropped from No. 29 to 31 in the NET, and in ESPN’s Bracketology, remained a firm fifth-seed for the NCAA Tournament.
But Monday’s defeat continued to expose some hard truths about Jon Scheyer’s first team, and with the ACC Tournament and March Madness quickly approaching, the 35-year-old rookie coach is running out of time.
There are some things that Scheyer can’t control – injuries for one.
Duke started the season without a healthy Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively II. In late November, junior captain Jeremy Roach suffered a toe injury that kept him out for three games in January. Against Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils may have lost Whitehead for good.
After a slow start, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward had become one of the team’s most consistent offensive threats, scoring at least 10 points in six of the past eight games. He exited Monday’s game with 10 points and a lower leg injury that prompted help from teammates to carry him to the team’s locker room. Whitehead returned to the court on crutches. His status for Saturday’s game in Atlanta against Georgia Tech remains in question.
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Regardless of the injury, Duke failed its first NCAA Tournament dry run. The Blue Devils had only two days to prepare for the trip to Blacksburg after a 68-66 win against No. 17 Miami….
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Author : USA TODAY Sports
Publish date : 2023-01-25 03:51:17
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