Virginia Tech's NCAA at-large bid hopes may have all but vanished with their loss to Boston College, but the Hokies played like a team that still hasn't given up having hope on earning their way into March Madness. While it wasn't the sharpest defensive performance against the Fighting Irish, the Hokies' offense stepped up and put on a show in South Bend to snag their first true road game victory of the season.
Virginia Tech beats Notre Dame 93-87 to improve to 15-10 on the season including 5-9 in ACC play while the Irish fell to 10-15 overall including 2-12 in ACC play.
One mismatch on paper going into this game was inside the arc with the Hokies ranking 44th nationally shooting 54.6% from inside the arc while the Irish ranked 320th in opposing 2-point shooting percentage with opponents shooting 52.8% on the interior.
That mismatch came to fruition today as the Hokies dominated the paint shooting 23-35 (65.7%) from inside the arc for the game including 15-21 (71.4%) in the second half. That dominance showed more with how Tech had a 42-32 points in the paint advantage in this game.
Grant Basile was the biggest star with his second-straight 30+ point game having 33 points and 6 rebounds on a very efficient 13-19 from the field including 10-12 inside the arc and 3-7 from three-point range plus 4-4 from the free-throw line. His 13 field goals are the most in an ACC game in program history according to Tech Sideline's David Cunningham.
He also took over the second half to drive the Hokies home with an insane 27 second half points. Given that he's averaging 33 points per game this week, there's a good chance
Justyn Mutts had a big day as well with 19 points on 7-16 shooting including 2-5 from three-point range. He also made plenty of plays beyond his scoring with 9 assists to only 3 turnovers plus 8 rebounds including 2 offensive rebounds.
Another part of Tech's success today was the fact that the Hokies only had 5 turnovers to go with 19 assists for an impressive 3.8 assist to turnover compared to Notre Dame having only 14 assists to 6 turnovers in this game.
Sean Pedulla played a big role with that assist to turnover ratio with 5 assists and 0 turnovers plus 12 points on an efficient 4-7 shooting in what was a strong game for the sophomore point guard. MJ Collins also continues to put together strong games in ACC play with 12 points of his own on an efficient 4-7 from the field plus 2 rebounds.
Lynn Kidd and Mylyjael Poteat put in some solid first half minutes especially Kidd who had 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist along with a team-best +9 plus/minus while Poteat added 3 points and 4 rebounds. Kidd also played a big role in the Hokies' 10-0 run late in the first half that helped them claim a 37-31 lead that would only be relinquished briefly in the second half.
Hunter Cattoor had a solid 8 points on an efficient 2-3 from three-point range plus 2-2 from the free-throw line, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists while John Camden had a rebound. Tech's free-throw shooting was strong as a whole beyond Cattoor as they were an impressive 20-25 (80%) at the free-throw line.
Tech finally got their first true road win of the season in what was an important bounce back to steady the shift after a disappointing loss. The focus now has to be on trying to get to at least 10-10 in the ACC which would give them a good chance at finishing in the ACC's top 9 and avoid having to play on a Tuesday in Greensboro for this year's ACC Tournament.
This win is a good start towards getting to that point and at least giving themselves a chance to repeat as ACC Tournament champs, but there's still a lot of work ahead to even do that.