Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Virginia Tech picked up their fifth-straight win to start the 2019-20 season with a 100-64 victory over Delaware State. Nahiem Alleyne led all scorers with 20 points for Virginia Tech, while Isaiah Wilkins added 15 points and 7 rebounds.
The Hokies got off to a bit of a slow start in the game. They turned the ball over on two of their first three possessions, which eventually allowed Delaware State to jump out to a 7-0 lead.
“We started off slow,” Alleyne admitted. “But once we started moving the ball, we started getting a lot of shots in.”
PJ Horne got the scoring started for Virginia Tech with a three-pointer over from the top of the key. It was his eighth made three of the season as he continues to impress from beyond the arc.
Even after that, the Hokies still struggled to pull away for most of the first half. Tech effectively traded buckets with Delaware State for the first 13 or so minutes, and they only led by three at the under eight media timeout.
Soon after, the shots finally started falling for Virginia Tech. Back-to-back threes from Wilkins sparked a 13-2 run for the Hokies, who took a 45-27 lead into the break. Alleyne said that better ball movement was a big difference in the last few minutes of the first half.
“Coach [Young] always emphasizes moving the ball around,” Alleyne said. “If we’re not moving the ball around, we’re going to have a tough night.”
The Hokies started the second half right where they left off. With triples from four different players in the first five minutes of the half, the Hokies erupted for 15 points in just 5:06 of game time.
Even after the Hokies cooled off, their defense continued to hold strong. John Crosby, who had 15 points in the first half for Delaware State, was held in check for the entire second half.
“John Crosby is a great player,” Wabisa Bede said. “We knew he was a great player, and he came out firing. We just knew it was going to be a long day if we kept letting him get hot. Then we switched it up in the second half, and we tuned in.”
Even so, head coach Mike Young was not fully satisfied with his team’s performance on defense.
“I’m disappointed in some areas defensively,” Young said. “We wanted to hold our fifth opponent under 40 percent, and we didn’t do that.”
Luckily for the Hokies, the shots were falling from everywhere in the second half. With 2:21 to go, Wilkins hit Virginia Tech’s 19th three of the game, breaking the program record.
The Hokies went on to hit two more three-pointers in the final two minutes to bring their total to 21 as they shot 57 percent overall from behind the arc in the contest.
After this impressive shooting display, Mike Young admitted that while he prefers to get the ball in the paint more, this team is made up of shooters.
“You know, the old live by it die by it...I’ve got no choice,” Young said. “It’s who we are. Thankfully...we have a number of kids that can shoot it.”
It also helps that Virginia Tech has one of the most capable distributors in the country in Wabissa Bede. While Bede only had five points, he tallied 10 assists on the night. That brings his total for the season to 40 assists (8 per game), and he is a big reason that the Hokies have gotten so many open looks.
Virginia Tech will face a tough test in their next game as they travel to Maui to take on #3 Michigan State in the Maui Invitational on Monday. They will play three games total in three days while in the islands with either Georgia or Dayton to follow Michigan State in facing VT.
Young knows that the Hokies have a tough task at hand, but his team is ready to take on the challenge. Part of that is due to their schedule preparing VT well as Young said Tech has been able to learn a lot from these first few contests, and now “the time has come” to take on the Spartans.
In the meantime, VT fans can celebrate a strong 5-0 start with dominant victories over weaker competition along with an important ACC win at Clemson.