That test came Saturday - and they passed rather easily.
Justin Bibbs scored 18 points to lead Virginia Tech to an 89-75 upset of No. 5 Duke in the ACC opener for both teams.
Bibbs broke out of a season-long slump, hitting 6 of 9 from the field, including a season-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies (12-1, 1-0), who won their eighth straight game. Virginia Tech hasn't lost since squandering a 17-point, second-half lead in a 68-65 loss to Texas A&M on Nov. 25.
''Our confidence is sky high right now,'' Bibbs said. ''I feel like we can play against anybody, with anybody.''
Virginia Tech snapped a nine-game losing streak to Duke (12-2, 0-1), which played without preseason All-America Grayson Allen, who was suspended indefinitely by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski after tripping an Elon player on Dec. 21 - the third such incident in Allen's career.
But Bibbs responded, scoring three straight baskets in a 7-0 run to push Virginia Tech's lead to 59-41. Duke got no closer.
''I don't think we're to the point that we've played 40 minutes,'' Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. ''But I don't know that any coach would say in game 13, `Yeah, that's perfect.' I think we have a long way to go and the weight of this game is the same as the weight of our next game.''
Ahmed Hill had 17 points for Virginia Tech, which shot 55.2 percent (32 of 58).
Kennard paced the Blue Devils with 34 points.
''I really feel like the two teams played like the way they've been playing. Virginia Tech has been playing really good basketball - continuity, good eight-man rotation, feed off of one another,'' Krzyzewski said. ''We played like we've been playing - without continuity. We haven't played well since before exams, and that continued.''
Duke: Allen might have helped the Blue Devils on the offensive end, but Duke needs to shore up its traditionally tough defense. The Blue Devils gave up season highs in points, shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage. The Hokies shot 61.5 percent (8 of 13) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Virginia Tech: Bibbs entered the game shooting just 36.8 percent (32 of 87). He had made just 1 of 13 in the Hokies' previous two games, including an outing in which he went scoreless (Charleston Southern) for the first time in his career. He had shot better than 50 percent in just three games all season, but he set season highs in field goals, 3-pointers and points against Duke.
NO WORD ON ALLEN'S STATUS
Allen made the trip to Blacksburg with his team, but sat on the bench in street clothes. Following the game, Krzyzewski did not reveal any more on Allen's status.
''Right now, I don't want to talk about Grayson,'' Krzyzewski said. ''He was part of the loss today by not being there. Instead of tri-captains, we've eliminated him from being a captain of the team. Only Amile (Jefferson) and Matt (Jones) are doing that. It's unfortunate for any team to have interruptions. Sometimes you have no control of them, like an injury or sickness. Then sometimes something like this happens. We've had a lot of interruptions. We have to stop having interruptions.''
The Hokies - who haven't been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 since November 2010 - have received votes in every poll this season, but hadn't cracked the Top 25. They should when the latest poll is released Monday.
Duke will look to rebound when it returns home to face Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
Virginia Tech travels to Raleigh, North Carolina for just its second true road game of the season when it takes on North Carolina State on Wednesday. The Hokies haven't won in Raleigh since 2011.
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