Paolo Banchero, No. 7 Duke Upset by Unkranked Virginia Tech in 2022 ACC Championship

AP Photo/John Minchillo

For the first time in school history, the Virginia Tech Hokies have won the ACC men’s basketball tournament championship with an 82-67 victory over Duke at Barclays Center on Saturday.

Head coach Mike Young’s team came into the tournament as the No. 7 seed with an 11-9 conference record during the regular season. They upset Notre Dame in the quarterfinals and North Carolina in the semifinals to get reach the title game for the first time.

These two teams met during the regular season on Dec. 22 in the first game of conference play for Duke. The Blue Devils won that matchup 76-65 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke has dominated the head-to-head rivalry against Virginia Tech with a 33-8 all-time record coming into Saturday.

Hunter Cattoor played the game of his life in the win. He scored a career-high 31 points and made seven of his nine attempts from three-point range. Keve Aluma had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

No other Virginia Tech player scored in double figures, but the team did have nine players score at least two points.

Paolo Banchero led the way for Duke’s offense in defeat. He finished with 20 points and five rebounds. Wendell Moore Jr., who scored 43 points in the previous two games combined, had just 11 points Saturday.

Notable Game Stats

  • Hunter Cattoor (VA Tech): 31 points (11-of-16 FG), 4 rebounds, 3 steals
  • Keve Aluma (VA Tech): 19 points (6-of-8 FG), 10 rebounds, 7 assists
  • Paolo Banchero (Duke): 20 points (8-of-11 FG), 5 rebounds
  • Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke): 11 points (4-of-8 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • AJ Griffin (Duke): 10 points (4-of-12 FG), 4 steals

Cattoor’s Dazzling Performance Carries Hokies to ACC Title

The first time these two teams met, Cattoor had just 10 points (4-of-10 field goals) in 35 minutes.

Virginia Tech’s junior guard hit the 10-point mark with 9:37 remaining in the first half. He dropped 17 points through the first 20 minutes after scoring a total of 18 points in the previous three conference tournament games combined.

Not to be outdone, Keve Aluma had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists in the first half. The combination of Aluma and Cattoor had 28 of the Hokies’ 42 points at the break.

ACC Men’s Basketball @accmbb

Hunter Cattoor & Keve Aluma have 28 of the Hokies 42 first half points! 🔥

Cattoor: 17 pts (6-7 FG | 4-4 3PT)
Aluma: 11 pts (5-7 FG), 6 reb, 4 ast@HokiesMBB | #ACCMBB

David Cunningham @therealdcunna

Hunter Cattoor. Just a 0-star recruit, as Mike Young would say, from Orlando.

He’s got 20. 5-5 from three. #Hokies

There was never a point in the first half when Virginia Tech allowed the Blue Devils to settle in. The Hokies went on an 8-0 run after falling behind 29-27 to open up a six-point lead with less than five minutes to go before the intermission.

ACC Men’s Basketball @accmbb

Cattoor gets the steal & Aluma takes it the distance! 8-0 Hokie run forces a timeout 🦃

Virginia Tech’s offense did not slow down in the second half. Cattoor, in particular, seemed to get stronger as the game moved along. He scored nine of the team’s first 12 points to open a 10-point lead with 15:44 remaining.

Justyn Mutts put the cherry on top of the win with a dunk in the face of Banchero to extend the lead to 76-64 in the final three minutes.

ACC Men’s Basketball @accmbb

Mutts. Poster. 💪@HokiesMBB | #ACCMBB


The high level of offensive play throughout the game was crucial for Virginia Tech because the defense didn’t do a lot to slow down Duke.

The Blue Devils shot 49.0 percent from the field. Banchero was able to assert himself whenever he wanted. The one key statistical difference is Virginia Tech went 10-of-22 from behind the arc, while Duke was just 4-of-20.

Virginia Tech also had better ball movement with 18 assists. Duke had just nine.

There was a sense of urgency for Virginia Tech in this game that Duke didn’t need to have. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had the Hokies as the first team out in his most recent Bracketology update.

Rather than have to live on the bubble and at the mercy of the selection committee, Virginia Tech can sit back and wait to see where it will open the NCAA tournament on Thursday or Friday.

Defensive Lapses Cost Blue Devils

It’s been established this season that Duke is much stronger on offense than defense. Coach K’s squad came into this game ranked 91st in defensive rating (97.1) and 105th in points allowed per game (66.7), per Sports Reference.

The Blue Devils have allowed at least 76 points in each of their last four games dating back to the regular-season loss to North Carolina.

Saturday’s game was emblematic of the ways in which Duke can make a deep run in the tournament, but also why it wouldn’t be a surprise if it lost in the first weekend.

Banchero was getting buckets seemingly at will when his number was called, though it certainly wasn’t as often as it could have been as the Blue Devils were trying to close the gap down the stretch.

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

I would like Duke to run the Iowa “Empty out one side of the court and get the ball to Keegan Murray in the mid-post area” offense for Paolo Banchero more often. Think it’s their most consistent way to generate half court offense.

Another issue for Duke in this loss was Moore. The junior forward certainly didn’t have a bad game, but he wasn’t as aggressive when the ball was in his hands as he could have been.

Moore, who is a 40.4 percent three-point shooter, only took three shots from deep in this game.

But the biggest thing that stood out from Duke’s performance in this loss was on defense. Virginia Tech was regularly getting wide-open looks at all three levels. The Blue Devils had issues boxing out, allowing the opposition to get 13 offensive rebounds.

Erick Smith @ericksmith

Amazing how directionless Duke is on offense and defense. Startling compared to what the history of the program has been.

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

No one will remember that Duke lost in the ACC title game … if the Blue Devils make a run in the NCAA tourney.

But been a rough last week, losing to UNC at home on Coach K Day and now failing to beat bubble Virginia Tech team.

Defense is a major question mark.

This has been a recurring theme for the team throughout the season. North Carolina scored 55 points in the second half and made 39.1 percent of its threes in a 94-81 win on March 5.

Miami, Syracuse and Virginia Tech combined to shoot 31-of-74 from behind the arc against Duke in the conference tournament.

Unless Krzyzewski and his staff can find a quick solution to that problem, Duke’s dreams to send its iconic coach into retirement with a national championship will turn into a nightmare quickly.

What’s Next?

Virginia Tech has secured an automatic berth in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Duke will make it into the tournament as an at-large bid. The full field of 68 will be announced Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on CBS.

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