As he sat next to his wife, Sonya, watching their son, Seth, torch Virginia Tech from 3-point range in the first half, Dell Curry never cheered, never rose from his seat behind Duke’s bench and never even clapped his hands.
Dell had to be acutely aware of his unique situation. He was sitting on familiar ground, while silently rooting for one of the central figures wearing the blue-and-white of the visitors.
Dell watched Tech, his alma mater, take it on the chin for a ninth consecutive game in an 88-56 loss to No. 6 Duke, his son’s team. Seth’s 22 points, which were highlighted by 5 of 6 shooting in the first half from beyond the 3-point line, led the way to the easy win.
“Once again, we’re not paying attention to the scouting report,” said Tech’s Erick Green, who scored 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the floor. “We’re shooting through gaps on Curry instead of chasing Curry. It’s crazy, man. We go over the same thing every single game. It’s just so frustrating. It boils down to paying attention, that’s all.
“We’ve just got to stop making excuses, man. It’s always an excuse some way somehow, instead of just playing the game. We’ve got to have more guys step up, man. We’ve got to have a lot more guys step up. Scoring four points ain’t going to help us win no games. That’s what it boils down to.”
The last time Tech (11-15 overall, 2-11 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost by more points at home was Dec. 2004, when North Carolina posted an 85-51 win. If Tech loses Sunday to Florida State in Blacksburg, the Hokies will match their longest losing streak – 10 games – since the 2001-02 season.
Since Seth was getting the opportunity Thursday night to do something Dell never had the opportunity to do in college by lighting it up from beyond the 3-point line, Dell had every right to live vicariously through Seth. There was no such thing as a 3-point line when Dell played.
After scoring a combined 11 points on 2 of 9 shooting in his first two career games in Blacksburg, Seth came out in the first half Thursday in his final game in Cassell Coliseum looking far more determined to make an impact. He scored 19 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the floor.
He slowed down in the second half, making 6 of 14 shots for the game, but Duke (23-3, 10-3) did the bulk of its damage in the first 20 minutes by building a 48-28 halftime lead. Duke led by double digits for the final 28 minutes.
“I didn’t play well the first two times coming here, so I really put it upon myself to come out (in Blacksburg) and play well,” said Seth, a senior whose hot perimeter shooting helped lead Duke’s 70.6 percent (12 of 17) effort from 3-point range.
“For my dad to be (in Blacksburg) – he doesn’t make it to a lot of games. So, for him to be (in Blacksburg) and play well in front of him, it means a lot.”
Tech shot 43.1 percent from the floor for the game. It made just 6.3 percent of its 3-pointers, connecting on a season-low one of 16 attempts.
Duke got 17 points from guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who made 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range. Mason Plumlee chipped in with 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks, while Fredericksburg native Josh Hairston had 11 points in just his fourth start of the season.
During his college playing days at Tech, Dell didn’t have the benefit of a 3-point line to pad his already prolific scoring stats. The NCAA didn’t adopt the line nationally until 1986 – a season after Dell was done with college ball.
Despite not having the 3-point line during his playing days, Dell is still second on Tech’s all-time scoring list with 2,389 points. Dell would go on to connect on 40 percent (1,245 of 3,098) of his 3-pointers in a 16-season career in the National Basketball Association.
Early in the week, Tech coach James Johnson said two keys for his team to have a shot at pulling off the upset were slowing down Duke from 3-point range and limiting Duke’s second-chance points. Tech, which was outrebounded 34-25 and outscored 14-4 in second-chance points, achieved neither goal.
“Curry came out on fire,” Johnson said. “He hit three 3’s in the first couple minutes of the game. Before I could turn around, he had 19 points. He was a tough matchup. He came out ready to roll.”
Tech didn’t get the same kind of performances from its supporting cast around Green as it did last Saturday in a 90-86 overtime loss at North Carolina State. Jarell Eddie came off the bench to score 17 points in the game, while freshman Marshall Wood contributed 14 points and 16 rebounds off the bench.
Against Duke, Eddie returned to the starting lineup for the first time in the last three games, but he scored just five points on 2 of 9 shooting from the floor. He missed all six of his 3-point shots. He’s missed 19 of his last 23 shots from 3-point range.
Wood had no points and one rebound in 24 minutes off the bench. He missed all three of his shots from the floor, all of which were 3-point attempts.
C.J. Barksdale scored a career-high 14 points against Duke, making all six of his shots from the floor, and grabbed eight rebounds. Cadarian Raines had 10 points.
On numerous occasions in Seth’s first two games in Cassell Coliseum, and even once or twice Thursday night, Tech’s student section chanted, “Who’s your daddy?” at Seth. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski answered the question after his team’s resounding victory.
“By the way, we know who his daddy is, too,” said Krzyzewski, whose team shot 53.6 percent from the floor. “He was sitting right behind the bench. He’s up in the (Cassell Coliseum) rafters, too. They’re a terrific family. This was a nice night for them.”
The only low point of Seth’s evening came with one minute and one second remaining in the first half, when he nailed his fifth 3-pointer of the half to put Duke up 46-26, and followed it by jawing at Tech’s bench. He was whistled for a technical foul.
Krzyzewski told Seth to apologize to the officials before the start of the second half – an order Seth obeyed. It was one of two messages Krzyzewski made sure he got across to Seth, but the first one came before the game started.
With a mom who excelled as a volleyball player at Tech, and a dad who’s still worshipped in Hokie circles as one of the school’s all-time greats in basketball, Seth could’ve easily felt the pressure coming into a building where he hadn’t had much success. Krzyzewski wanted those thoughts banished.
“I said, ‘Just play. Don’t try to do anything different. You’ve been playing great’” Krzyzewski said. “I thought he let the game come to him. That first half display was sensational…We needed that.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times