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Virginia Tech Beats #7 Duke 82-67 To Win First ACC Tournament Championship

Keve Aluma 1 2022 ACC Tourney Title Game

All week long, there was one question that surrounded the Virginia Tech Men’s Basketball Team: Will the Hokies’ name be called on Selection Sunday?

Away with that.

It’s no longer “Will” or “If,” but “When” as the Hokies won their first-ever ACC Tournament championship with an 82-67 victory over the No. 1 seeded Duke Blue Devils with there being plenty of emotion after the game.

“It's really a special thing for our basketball team,” Young said. “For Southwest Virginia, where I'm from, where I grew up.”

Hailing from Radford, Va. Young attended Virginia Tech basketball games when he was a child. Now in that same building, his squad will raise a banner that no other team has achieved.

"Pretty big,” Young said. “I'll process, and at the end of the season, we'll pull it all out and we'll savor, and we'll congratulate and pat one another on the back. But we're going to play in the NCAA Tournament next week.”

A player that never intended on stepping foot in Blacksburg, Va. until Mike Young left for Virginia Tech, Hunter Cattoor posted a career-high 31 points including on 7-9 shooting from behind the arc, stealing the show in Brooklyn.

The junior guard found his rhythm straight after the opening tip with six consecutive three-point makes and finished 11-16 from the floor.

"Coach Young talked to us before in the locker room, just go out there and have fun,” Cattoor said. “I just felt like I was in my front yard, shooting on the front grill. I dreamed of moments like this, and it happened, so I'm grateful.”

In addition to Cattoor, Storm Murphy and Keve Aluma brought the veteran leadership to this team with championship experience from Wofford.

Now, on a new team, in a new state, in a new conference, the core of the Hokies’ lineup is once again taking in the glory of standing on top.

"We won a championship together when they were a sophomore,” Young said. “They're old, they're strong, they're tough. They're really, really skilled.”

It was another night in the ACC Tournament that Aluma had a tough matchup down low, this one coming against Paolo Banchero, and again the Hokie forward delivered a solid showing, as he ended with 19 points on 6-8 shooting and team-best numbers with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

“I don't think a lot of people thought we would do this or even end up with a positive record,” Aluma said. “It means everything.”

One consistent mark that the Hokies kept with all season long was their ability to hold a halftime lead. Coming into tonight’s game against the Blue Devils, the Hokies were 18-4 when holding an edge at the break, which included three straight halftime leads turning into winning results.

Taking a three-point advantage into the break, the Hokies were once the team on top after 20 minutes of play. Despite the recent success, it was hard to look away from their Dec. 22nd game in which the Hokies had a four-point lead but let the game slip away at Cameron Indoor.

That wasn’t going to happen today though, as the Hokies stretched their lead in the beginning of the half, owning a multi-possession lead for the greater part of the half.

Despite that lead continuing to slowly grow into the dying minutes, the Hokies needed one last play to secure their hopes for a victory.

Justyn Mutts, known as one of the most electrifying players on the court every night, made sure it would be Tech's night as he threw down a poster-slam on Banchero, making it a 10-point lead with 2:30 remaining.

"I think it was that moment that I just started smiling," Aluma said. “I didn't want to smile too much, but it was showing a little bit.”

Moments like that are what make March so magical. A team that looked as if their tournament hopes were going to slip through the fingers, survived and advanced, and pulled off four wins in four nights to sit on top of the conference.

Think back to that cold January night when Miami’s Charlie Moore nailed a half-court buzzer beater to send the Hokies to 2-7 in conference play. Now, look where they stand on March 12th. They only had six short weeks to change the narrative of this season, and they did it.

"I knew when it came together, it was going to be a beautiful thing,” Young said. “I didn't think it would culminate in this, but here we are and we're not giving it back, I can tell you that.”

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