It had been over 30 years since Virginia Tech’s last win on the hardwood in Louisville, Kentucky. That is until the Hokies used a late surge Tuesday night to take down the Cardinals at the KFC Yum Center, 71-54.
Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-12) only surrendered the lead once to Louisville (4-26, 2-17) as the Cardinals took an 8-6 lead on a JJ Traynor dunk, but the Hokies responded with an 8-0 run en route to a 35-27 halftime lead.
The Hokies were in firm control for most of the second half, but the Cardinals cut the deficit to three midway through the second half as JJ Traynor nailed a corner three to bring the score to 50-47, forcing Mike Young to take a timeout.
Whatever was said within the confines of the Hokies huddle gave them the juice they needed, as they rattled off a 14-0 run during the closing stretch to put the game well out of reach.
The Hokies' offensive attack was well-rounded, as four of the five Tech starters finished in double digits.
Justyn Mutts put up yet another impressive stat line, notching his eighth double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds. With his stat-stuffing performance, he joined elite company, becoming the second active player in Division I to reach 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds and 400 assists (Ahsan Asdullah of Lipscomb) He broke the 1,000 career rebound mark specifically in this game to reach that impressive accomplishment.
Grant Basile led in the scoring column for the Hokies while going 3-5 from behind the arc. Basile continued his impressive tear for the Hokies, scoring in double figures for the 14th consecutive game.
Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla added 11 and 10 respectively, leading to a balanced scoring attack from the Hokies' starting five. Most importantly for Hokies fans, Cattoor returned from what looked to be a scary fall, washing relief over the Tech faithful.
The Hokies didn’t necessarily shoot the ball well, shooting 24-of-64 from the field (37.5%) but they defended the Cardinals well behind the arc. Louisville found the bottom of the net on just 2 of its 14 three-point attempts (14.3%).
Louisville’s El Ellis scored 14 points, continuing to be one of the lone bright spots in what has been anything but the ideal first season for head coach Kenny Payne. Mike James matched Ellis’ total, as the backcourt provided the only two double-digit scorers for the Cardinals.
With the victory, Tech heads back to Blacksburg with its first win at Louisville since 1991. The Hokies grabbed their seventh win in ACC play and will search for their eighth on Saturday in Cassell Coliseum against Florida State to close out the regular season.
Following the regular season finale, Tech will head to Greensboro to start their challenging quest to defend their ACC Tournament title.