Duke vs Virginia Tech : The Duke Blue Devils, coming off perhaps the most memorable game of the 2019 NCAA Tournament thus far, take on ACC rival Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech upset Duke when they faced off in the regular season. With both teams having their best players back. Duke suffered another loss without star freshman Zion Williamson on Tuesday.
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Virginia Tech starting guard/forward Ty Outlaw will be available to play against Duke in the Sweet 16 on Friday after being charged with marijuana possession, the school announced Thursday.
Outlaw was charged in connection with a search warrant that was executed on his apartment last week when he and the Hokies were playing in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Virginia Tech became aware of the situation on Monday evening.
Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said Outlaw took and passed a drug test this week, before traveling with the rest of the team up to Washington for the game against the Blue Devils. “Maybe sometimes what scrolls across the TV may not actually be the whole story,” Williams said in a news conference Thursday. “Or what is published on Twitter in an ironically efficient pace may not be the whole story. Ty’s handled everything perfect. He’s been transparent not only with me, but with all of the authorities involved. And I think it will play itself out.”
Virginia Tech beat Duke last month — albeit with freshman star Zion Williamson on the sideline. And when asked about the rematch, the Hokies weren’t interested in building up Duke’s brand. “My three out of four years here at Virginia Tech, we’ve beaten Duke,” said guard Justin Robinson, who also missed the Hokies’ 77-72 win on Feb. 26. “I don’t think we’re excited for the moment. I think it’s just another game for us.”
Teammate Ahmed Hill then leaned into his microphone to offer a confirmation: “100 percent.” The Hokies’ players exited the dais at Capital One Arena joking about the hype surrounding Duke, in spite of Virginia Tech’s success.
Of course, the win last month comes with a large asterisk, as Williamson was sidelined with a knee injury. Since returning to action in the ACC tournament, he has averaged 27.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and Duke is 5-0.
“Our game plan stays the same,” Hill said. “Yeah, he’s a tremendous player. But it is what it is. We’re going to not let the ball get in the paint … make him shoot long, contested 3s and force turnovers. We’re going to limit our turnovers and get great shots.”
Outlaw, a senior who is the team’s top 3-point shooter, is facing a possession of marijuana charge after police said they found marijuana in his Blacksburg, Virginia, apartment while the Hokies were in California for the first rounds of the NCAA tournament.
In a statement released Thursday, Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said Outlaw was administered and passed a drug test. That played a part in the athletic department’s decision to allow him to play against the top-seeded Blue Devils.
Keeping Williamson out of the paint has been a tough task for Duke opponents this year, but Virginia Tech also will get a boost from Robinson’s return to action. The point guard missed the last month of the season and the ACC tournament before returning last weekend for the NCAA tournament.
“We played 12 games without [Robinson],” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “It’s arguable, but I think he’s really important to what we do. I know that’s not the storyline today. But he has, for sure, made an impact in the progression of our program. “But it’s hard to say what the difference is other than two teams have both added two really important cogs to the roster.”