Virginia Tech basketball started the ACC Tournament off right on Wednesday with a 71-56 victory over Miami in Charlotte. It was the first time in school history that the Hokies have beaten an ACC opponent 3 times in a single year.
Kerry Blackshear led Virginia Tech with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Ty Outlaw added 8 boards and 14 points.
The Hokies started out very strong, as they went on an 11-0 run including 3 triples by Ty Outlaw to start the game. Even after Miami took a timeout 4:27 in, Virginia Tech did not cool down.
A few possessions later, Outlaw sent the crowd into a frenzy with a monster dunk in transition. Isaiah Wilkins followed that up with a three to give the Hokies a 23-5 lead with 11:11 remaining in the first half.
The Hurricanes finally managed to get a couple of buckets, but the Hokies seemed to have an answer for everything the Canes threw at them. At the final media timeout of the first half, Virginia Tech led 35-18.
After a few empty possessions from both teams, Nickeil Alexander-Walker hit a contested triple to give the Hokies a 20 point lead. However, Chris Lykes responded with a three of the glass as the buzzer sounded to give Miami a bit of momentum going into the locker room.
At the beginning of the second half, Miami was able to capitalize on some of that momentum. Including the three to end the first half, the Hurricanes went on a 17-4 run to trim the Hokies lead to seven. Chris Lykes and Ebuka Izundu scored 14 of those 17 points.
However, the Hokies learned from their mistakes in last year’s ACC Tournament. They were no going to blow a large halftime lead again.
Virginia Tech went on a quick 7-0 run to double the lead back to 14. After that, Miami never got the deficit to single digits. Between the 13:01 and 11:19 mark of the half, Blackshear scored 8 straight point for the Hokies and single-handedly outscored Miami 8-3.
Virginia Tech’s dominance continued with three pointers from Ahmed Hill and Isaiah Wilkins. By the under 8 media timeout, the Hokies had gone on a 20-5 since Miami trimmed the lead to 7.
Virginia Tech kept the lead between 15 and 20 for most of the second half. That allowed key starters like Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to rest for the last 5 or so minutes of the game, which can be crucial in a tournament setting.
Jonathan Kabongo nailed a three-pointer with 1:29 to go in the game, and that would prove to be the last bucket by either team. Virginia Tech coasted to a relatively stress-free, 14 point victory.
Key Stat – Virginia Tech Shoots 50% From the Field
The Hokies came out of the tunnel scorching hot, hitting 4 of their first 5 three point attempts. In addition, they had no trouble getting to the rim for easy buckets, and great defense lead to transition baskets on multiple occasions.
For a stretch, it seemed that Virginia Tech could have whatever they wanted offensively. Even after they cooled down a bit, the Hokies still put up one of their better shooting performances in the past month.
Virginia Tech shot 53.8% (14-26) from the field in the first half. Coincidentally, they also shot 53.8% (7-13) from beyond the arc in the opening frame. Even after a slump to start the second half, the Hokies still shot 50% from the field and 40.7% from three in the game.
As a team, the Hokies have only eclipsed that three-point percentage 3 times in the last 11 games (vs. GT, at Pitt, and vs. Miami on 3/8).
Virginia Tech will move on to challenge 4 seed Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday. That game will be broadcast at 2:30 on ESPN from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.