Behind three Hokies with 20-plus points, the No. 16/17 Virginia Tech men’s basketball team defeated No. 23/22 Purdue 89-83 on Sunday night to claim the Charleston Classic title at TD Arena.
The Hokies (4-0) made some history on the campus of College of Charleston, taking down a ranked Big Ten team for the first time in school history and winning a nonconference tournament for the first time since 2008.
Sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who made the all-tournament team and earned MVP honors, stayed hot on the weekend and poured in a team-high 25 points, team-best seven rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes of action.
Senior Justin Robinson, who made the all-tournament team as well, and graduate student Ahmed Hill each had 23 points, marking the first time since Nov. 17, 2017, versus Washington that three Hokies owned 20 or more points in the same game.
Though they played well all weekend, the Hokies started the game down 12 points at the 7:07 mark, with the Boilermakers (4-1) Carsen Edwards scoring eight points in the early going to give Purdue a 34-22 advantage.
But Tech rallied and trimmed the deficit to five points after Robinson poured in eight of his own. However, Purdue got a bucket with 26 seconds left and Edwards hit a free throw with two ticks remaining, giving the Boilermakers an eight-point led at half, 44-36.
Tech began to start chipping away once the teams came back from the locker room, making it a one-possession game at the 15:04 mark after a triple by Hill. Three minutes later the Hokies gained the lead after a jumper from Hill and held off Purdue until the game was knotted at 69-all with a little over six minutes remaining.
The final six minutes were nerve-racking as no team gained a greater lead than a two-possession advantage, but Tech never let the Boilermakers take a lead again as Robinson and redshirt junior Kerry Blackshear Jr. made crucial buckets down the stretch to help the Hokies stay perfect on the year.
Edwards, a preseason All-American, paced Purdue with a game-high 26 points, seven assists and three rebounds. Tech improves to 3-1 all-time against the Boilermakers.
– Alexander-Walker led the Hokies in scoring for the fourth consecutive contest and has scored 20 or more points in every game this season. The Toronto native’s 25 points were the second-most of his career and a season high. Alexander-Walker also got it done on the glass, bringing down seven rebounds, a season high and the second-most of his career, too.
– Robinson finished in double figures for the 11th straight game, dating back to Feb. 17, 2018, versus Georgia Tech. The point guard also dished out six assists, racking up 24 total assists through four games to average 6.0 per game.
– Hill, who only had five points in the first half, exploded for 18 points in the second half on 6-of-10 shooting, including three 3-pointers and three free throws. It was his most points in a game since Nov. 17, 2017, versus Washington when he had 23 as well.
– Blackshear was limited to only 17 minutes of playing time, finishing with four fouls, but turned in 12 points, including a 7-of-11 clip from the charity stripe. He also grabbed two rebounds.
– The Hokies got to the lane with ease and made the Boilermakers pay, making more free throws than Purdue attempted, as they made 19 of 26 compared to Purdue’s 7-of-11 mark.
– Tech is the fifth ACC team to win the championship at the Charleston Classic, joining Clemson (2008), Miami (’09, ’14) and Virginia (’15).
– It’s been 10 years since the Hokies won a nonconference tournament, winning the Holiday Festival title in New York in 2008.
STAT OF THE GAME:
Despite Purdue owning a lead time of 23:28 compared to Tech’s 13:41, the Hokies made it count when it mattered most, finishing the game by making seven of its last eight field goals, always having an answer for Purdue’s punches down the stretch.
WHAT IS NEXT: The Hokies will be back at it this afternoon against Saint Francis (Pa.) at 1 p.m. ET at Carilion Clinic Court at Cassell Coliseum. The second home game of the season for Tech will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker – Virginia Tech (MVP)
Carsen Edwards – Purdue
Justin Robinson – Virginia Tech
Ronshad Shabazz – Appalachian State
Markis McDuffie – Wichita State