NEW YORK (AP) Hunter Cattoor scored a career-high 31 points and the seventh-seeded Hokies won the New York Life ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament for the first time, beating Duke 82-67 on Saturday night to deny Mike Krzyzewski a league title in his final season.
Virginia Tech (23-12) came to Brooklyn in need a of a run to make the NCAA Tournament, and the Hokies became just the second ACC to take the crown with four wins in four days.
The Hokies also are the worst seeded team to win the most-storied conference tournament in college basketball.
Duke lost Coach K’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium to rival North Carolina a week ago, derailing what the school hoped would be a joyful celebration of the winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball.
The top-seeded and seventh-ranked Blue Devils (28-6) got another chance for a feel-good victory and to add at least one more trophy to the case for the retiring Hall of Fame coach, but again it was not to be.
When Justyn Mutts made a two-hand slam over Duke’s star freshman Paolo Banchero with 2:26 left in the second half, Virginia Tech led 76-64 and the Hokies fans rose with roar.
Virginia Tech’s first ACC championship since joining the conference in 2004 was sealed.
Soon after Metallica’s ”Enter Sandman,” the Hokies’ unofficially fight song, blared throughout Barclays Center and the Virginia Tech fans sung along like it was the fourth quarter at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia.
Banchero scored 20 points for Duke, which shot 4 for 20 from 3-point range and allowed the Hokies to make 50% of their shots.
Virginia Tech’s last – and only – conference tournament championship came in 1979 when the Hokies were in the Metro Conference.
Hokies coach Mike Young led his teams to five Southern Conference Tournament titles in 17 seasons at Wofford. It only took him three season to get his first with Virginia Tech.
Meanwhile, Krzyzewski was denied his 16th ACC title in his 42nd and final season.
Barclays Center is a long way from Cameron, both literally and figuratively, but the Duke fans did their best to make it feel like a Blue Devils home game.
But nothing came easy for the Blue Devils all week.
Duke didn’t have a halftime lead in any of the games at Barclays Center.
On Saturday night, down three at half, Duke began the second half with a sloppy turnover on offense and then gave up a driving layup.
Krzyzewski called a timeout 35 seconds into the half and laid into his team, getting out of his chair to demonstrate the movement he wanted to see from his players.
It did not immediately have the desired result. Cattoor swished his sixth 3 and then made a steal on the other end that he turned into old-fashioned three-point play with a driving layup.
That put the Hokies up 55-45 less than five minutes into the half.