Duke's Austin Rivers lead the Blue Devils with 17 points, including the final basket to seal the win.
ATLANTA -- Thanks to a late turnover by Virginia Tech, Duke escaped with a narrow win Friday night, but the 60-56 win raised as many questions as it answered for the Blue Devils.
Namely, who knew Ryan Kelly was so important to Duke?
Sure, the 6-foot-10 forward from Raleigh can stretch defenses with his 3-point shooting ability, and he's averaging 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds, but it turns out his mere presence in Duke’s forward rotation is absolutely and unquestionably essential. The rest of it is a bonus.
Updated 10:54 p.m.
ATLANTA – As Duke moved the ball around the perimeter in the second half of its 60-56 win over Virginia Tech on Friday night, Tyler Thornton saw that Seth Curry was going to catch it with what looked like enough space to get off an open 3-pointer from the wing.
“Shoot it, Seth,” Thornton yelled.
At the last second, a Virginia Tech defender lunged at Curry, forcing him to pass to a wide-open Thornton in the corner. With the Hokies showing little inclination to close out on him, Thornton squared up and let fly with another 3-pointer.
That attempt splashed through the net.
DURHAM – After former Duke point guard Kyrie Irving said Monday that Mike Krzyzewski would coach the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, the Blue Devils coach said Tuesday that such a decision has not been made.
“While Kyrie and I have discussed his potential role with USA Basketball in the future, my focus right now is on the remainder of our Duke team’s season and the 2012 Olympics,” Krzyzewski said in a release provided by Duke.
“Jerry Colangelo and I have not discussed anything beyond what is ahead of the USA national team this summer as we pursue a gold medal in London.”
DURHAM – Duke forward Ryan Kelly sprained his right foot in practice on Tuesday and will miss the ACC tournament.
The junior will be monitored over the weekend and re-evaluated Monday.
Without Kelly, the Blue Devils will have to take care to avoid wearing the Plumlee brothers out, especially if they get to Sunday’s championship. Beyond Mason and Miles, Duke’s only other frontcourt options are Josh Hairston and Mike Gbinije.
Mason Plumlee grabs 3rd team berth.
The ACC announced on Monday its annual men’s basketball all-conference, all-defensive and all-freshmen teams. The honors are as follows, with voting point totals in parentheses:
After Duke’s players indicated that they thought their offensive struggles against North Carolina affected their defense on Saturday, Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said Monday that he’s not sure it won’t happen again this season.
“That’s just who we are,” Krzyzewski said during the ACC teleconference. “You can tell them not to do that, but I tell ‘em to block out and they don’t always block out. It’s going to happen. It’s reoccurred through the season and hopefully during this postseason, we can eliminate that.”
The Blue Devils shot 26.5 percent in the first half on Saturday against the Tar Heels while UNC shot 52.6 percent on the other end. The discrepancy helped the Tar Heels build a 24-point halftime advantage.
Updated (Sunday, 8:35 p.m.)
North Carolina will go to Atlanta as the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament, just as everyone predicted in the preseason.
The Tar Heels (14-2 in the ACC) took the regular-season title with Saturday's 88-70 win at Duke. The Blue Devils (13-3) will be the second seed in the conference tournament.
No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 Wake Forest, noon
No. 5 N.C. State vs. No. 12 Boston College, 2:30 p.m.
No. 7 Clemson vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Miami vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech, 9:30 p.m.
Other than Duke's Austin Rivers and Boston College's Ryan Anderson, the freshman class is difficult to sort through.