Virginia Tech Uses Strong Second Half to Beat Notre Dame 79-73

Virginia Tech Uses Strong Second Half to Beat Notre Dame 79-73
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Jan 15, 2022

It was a tale of two halves in Blacksburg as Notre Dame used an early 10-0 run to take control of this game and claim a 40-32 lead by halftime against Virginia Tech. However, the Hokies were the ones to close this game out with two runs of at least 8-0 followed by scoring the final 6 points of the game to get a huge first ACC win against a previously surging Notre Dame.

Virginia Tech beat Notre Dame 79-73 to snap the Fighting Irish's six-game winning streak and get the Hokies their first ACC win of the 2021-22 season. The Hokies improve to 9-7 overall including 1-4 in ACC play with the win while Notre Dame falls to 10-6 overall including 2-4 in ACC play.

This game was truly a tale of two halves as the Fighting Irish relied on an early 10-0 run plus having 0 first half turnovers to take a 40-32 halftime lead over the Hokies. Both teams shot at least 50% from the field in the first half in what was a pretty even game outside of that early run.

However, the Hokies turned it on in the second half starting with an 8-0 run that helped them get the game down to one score for the first time since early part of the first half. From there, the Hokies had a 9-0 run to claim the lead and then scored the final 6 points at the end with Notre Dame's Cormac Ryan missing a pair of free throws that would have tied the game at 75 to seal the game.

Tech was better on both ends of the floor in the second half as their offense was in perfect rhythm as Tech shot 69.6% from the field while their defense stepped up to the plate and held the Irish to under 38% from the field.

Justyn Mutts may have been the biggest catalyst of it all as he had a team-high 24 points on 9-11 shooting from the field and 5-6 from the free-throw line while also adding 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. Mike Young said after the game that he wanted Mutts to "assert" himself more in the game and that's exactly what Mutts did.

Meanwhile, Nahiem Alleyne's slump is clearly over after he had one of the best games of his Hokie career with 22 points on 8-10 shooting including 4-5 from three-point range plus 3 assists and 2 rebounds. Alleyne was a machine tonight playing like the All-ACC caliber talent that he's proven to be in the past and being the best guard in this game for the Hokies.

Keve Aluma had a tough start going 3-9 early, but finished strong making 4 of his final 5 shots on his way to having 17 points, a team-high 8 rebounds, and 2 assists with his late game surge helping push the Hokies over the top.

Storm Murphy provided a strong boost as well being the fourth Hokie in double figures as he was 4-7 from three while adding 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Hunter Cattoor had a tough offensive night with only 1 point while going 0-3 from the field, but did add 3 rebounds and 3 assists and had the second-best plus/minus for the Hokies at +7.

Darius Maddox had 3 points in only 5 minutes while David N'Guessan played the most off the bench appearing in 11 minutes while adding 2 rebounds and 3 blocks. Sean Pedulla had a tough night as the freshman point guard had 4 fouls in 6 minutes and missed his only shot attempt of the night.

This was a must win game for the Hokies not only because their bubble holes were starting to collapse, but also just for gaining some momentum in ACC play after starting 0-4 in conference play. Additionally, seeing Justyn Mutts be as assertive as he was and Nahiem Alleyne get back to the high-end offensive form that had many including myself believe he could be an All-ACC player this season was crucial in helping the Hokies take down a surging Notre Dame that had won six-straight games.

The win pushes the Hokies to a more central position on the bubble for now, but Tech will need to keep that momentum going as they look to get some revenge against N.C. State with a trip to Raleigh on the schedule next.