NCAA: Duke outlasts Virginia Tech, 75-73

The top-seeded Duke Blue Devils used a strong second half effort led by freshman phenom Zion Williamson and guard Tre Jones to defeat No. 4 Virginia Tech, 75-73, Friday night in a Sweet 16 battle of ACC rivals.

The Hokies had a shot to tie the game with just over one second left on an in-bounds play that was perfectly executed, but Ahmed Hill’s lay-in shot from in front of the basket fell short and Duke escaped with another close win.

The Hokies (27-8) were hoping to get their second straight victory over the Blue Devils (31-6) in just over a month after Virginia Tech’s 77-72 win on Feb. 26.

Williamson led the Blue Devils with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist. Tre Jones was right behind with 22 points, while R.J. Barrett contributed 18.

The Hokies also had a balanced scoring attack led by Kerry Blackshear with 18. Hill had 15, Justin Robinson had 14, and Wabissa Bede chipped in 10.

Duke will next face No. 2 Michigan State, the winner of the Friday night’s other East Regional semifinal at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

The winner of that Elite Eight matchup will punch their ticket to the Final Four starting April 6 in Minneapolis, Minn.

While Duke was playing in the Sweet 16 for the 31st time in program history and second year in a row, Friday’s game marked just the second time the Hokies reached that level.

The only other time Virginia Tech made it this far in the NCAA Tournament was in 1967, when the Hokies lost 71-66 to Dayton in the Elite Eight.