Photo Credit: ACC Media/Virginia Tech Athletics via Roanoke Times' Matt Gentry
A roller coaster week concluded with a milestone Monday with Keve Aluma earning multiple honors, and Virginia Tech rising to #16 in the latest AP Poll.
Aluma, the Wofford transfer, had a career-defining week for the Hokies after posting two double-doubles last week against the Notre Dame and previously #8 Virginia.
After the Hokies faced some adversity early in the week, it was vital for an experienced player to step up and provide a spark for Mike Young’s team in the heart of conference play.
On Wednesday, Aluma was dominant in all 30 minutes that he played in against the Fighting Irish. The redshirt junior recorded 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Hokies while posting a +22 plus-minus. He also gathered three blocks and drew seven fouls at the Joyce Center.
But the performance that truly set him over the top last week was in his first Commonwealth Clash against the #8 Virginia Cavaliers.
After virtually carrying the Hokies in the first 20 minutes by scoring 16 of their 21 first half points, Aluma continued that effort into the second half to finish with a career-high 29 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists to take down the Cavaliers.
On the week, Aluma averaged 21.5 points per game and 11.0 rebounds per game while contributing on the defensive side as well with 2.0 blocks per game. On top of that, Aluma shot 60% from the field and made sure to make the most at the free throw line while going 11-12 in both games.
But possibly the best part of Aluma’s week was when he woke up this morning to the good news that he was announced as the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy Player of the Week and the ACC Player of the Week.
Aluma became the second Hokie to ever be rewarded with the Naismith Trophy Player of the Week after Justin Robinson won the award back on February 12, 2018.
He also became the fourth Hokie to win multiple ACC Player of the Week awards in the same seasons. Only Zabian Dowdell (2006-07), Jeff Allen (2010-11) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (2018-19) have completed the feat in the past.
Aluma has really broken through in ACC play for the Hokies and is starting to state his name as one of the best frontcourt players in the conference.
As for the Hokies as a whole, a perfect 2-0 record on the week moved themselves up in the AP Poll from #20 to #16.
After dropping from #16 to #20 in the previous week, the Hokies made sure to take care of business by taking down a decent Fighting Irish squad on the road, 62-51, and tackling their archrival, the Cavaliers, in primetime at home.
The 65-51 victory over Virginia gave the Hokies their fourth win over a ranked opponent on the season, the most out of any team in the conference.
Up next for the Hokies this week are a couple of road games against Pittsburgh and Miami. Virginia Tech will first travel up to the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday to take on the Panthers followed by a road trip down to the Watsco Center to take on the Hurricanes on Saturday.
January came to a successful conclusion for both the Hokies and Aluma, but now as the calendar flips to February, the Hokies must do their part going forward to cement themselves as one of the better college basketball programs in the country.