After opening the season with a 35-point win against Maine, Virginia Tech hit the road to take on a Navy team with plenty of momentum after upsetting #25 Virginia to open their season. However, the Hokies were able to seize control early and never let it go even as Navy had a few runs that the Hokies responded to and flipped back the other way.
Virginia Tech beat Navy 77-57 to improve to 2-0 with the Midshipmen falling to 1-1 on the season. This was likely the Hokies' toughest opponent prior to their game against Memphis where non-conference play gets much tougher with Tech set to face Radford next as the first of three consecutive home games.
It was all Hokies in the first half as they used an 11-0 run to claim a quick lead after Navy had the opening bucket and never relinquished it after a dominant first half where Tech shot over 53% from the field while allowing 0 offensive rebounds for Navy. Tech was firing on all cylinders on both ends of the floor holding Navy to 25 and taking an 18-point lead into halftime.
Tech came out a little cold on both ends in the second half while also giving up 6 offensive rebounds in the first 9 minutes of that half. Tech saw their lead cut to as few as 10, but Tech responded with a 9-0 run quickly after that with the Hokies maintaining firm control throughout the second half with Mike Young not even using a timeout to try to stop a Navy run.
It was an efficient night overall for the Hokies who shot 50% from the field including 8-19 from three while their perimeter defense was great as they held Navy to 3-25 from three after the Midshipmen were 11-21 from behind the arc against the renowned UVA "pack line" defense. This was also the second-straight game with single-digit turnovers as the Hokies only had 9 while taking advantage of Navy's 10 turnovers on their way to a 19-10 points off turnover advantage.
Rebounding continues to be the one small weakness for the Hokies as they gave up 7 offensive rebounds in the second half to Navy after allowing none in the first half. However, this was definitely an improvement from a dominant first half in offensive rebounding to the Hokies still finishing with an 8-7 offensive rebound advantage plus 9-8 advantage in second chance points.
Keve Aluma dealt with some foul trouble, but Aluma didn't need too much time tonight to make a big difference as he had 20 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in only 23 minutes of action. Aluma did a great job of getting to the free throw line and taking advantage of those opportunities going 10-10 at the charity stripe while also shooting an efficient 5-9 from the field.
Hunter Cattoor was on fire tonight with one of his best games as a Hokie putting up 19 points on 7-10 shooting including 5-7 from three while also adding 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Storm Murphy found his offensive rhythm more tonight with 11 points on 4-9 shooting plus a team high 6 rebounds while Justyn Mutts provided a couple big sparks with 9 points on 4-5 shooting including a couple highlight reel dunks plus 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Nahiem Alleyne didn't have his best night offensively as he had 8 points on 2-9 shooting plus 3 turnovers, but he still found ways to make an impact with 3-3 shooting at the free-throw line and 3 assists.
John Ojiako continues to show that he's taken his game up a few notches with 6 points on 3-3 shooting plus 3 rebounds and 1 block in only 9 minutes while Darius Maddox played the most of any backup with 4 points and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes. David N'Guessan had a tougher night going 0-4 from the field but found other ways to contribute with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal while Sean Pedulla had 1 rebound and 1 assist, and Jalen Haynes made a brief appearance at the end.
Navy was led by Tyler Nelson who had 15 points on 5-6 shooting from the field and 4-4 from the free-throw line plus 4 rebounds. Greg Summers added 10 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 4-4 from the field while Daniel Deaver had 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Navy is undoubtedly the toughest challenge that Virginia Tech will face before they take on Memphis and they passed it with flying colors showing lots of mental toughness that prevented Navy from turning any of their runs into a moment that shook Tech's control of this game. Mike Young didn't even call a timeout in this game, letting his veteran team figure it out and fight their way out of Navy runs to flipping it into their own momentum to rebuild their leads well away from the lows around 10.
What's clear after this opening week is that this Virginia Tech is really good and the fact they weren't ranked to start the season is a wrong that should be rectified ASAP.