From the sidelines
By Marty Gordon
This basketball season might not be all what Virginia Tech fans had expected, but last week’s win over Georgia Tech put several things in motion. For one, the Hokies now have their postseason dreams in their own hands.
With three games remaining, Tech needs to win out and finish strong going into the ACC tournament in Brooklyn. At least one win in the conference “show” could also help the cause.
The Hokies faithful are not known to be patient, and biting nails might have to be allowed over the next two weeks.
On the court Wednesday night, there was much to cause concern. Virginia Tech started the game shooting 1-8 from the field with a Nahiem Alleyne 3-pointer opening the scoring. Georgia Tech responded with a 9-0 run, its largest of the half. Until Mutts’ dunk with 12:19 remaining in the first half, Alleyne was the only player to score for the Hokies. Despite struggling from deep, shooting 3-14, a perfect outing from the free-throw line (7-7) kept Virginia Tech in the game and trailing only 34-30 at the half.
After intermission, the Hokies came back to even it up at 41-41 before going on a 7-0 run, finished off by Maddox’s jumper, to seize a 48-41 lead with 9:50 to go in the contest. The Yellow Jackets narrowed the margin before the game was over, but the Hokies held on for the 62-58 win. Virginia Tech capitalized on seven Georgia Tech turnovers in the half, collecting 10 points off those turnovers.
Meanwhile with the defeat, Georgia Tech sits locked at the bottom of the conference standings, tied with Clemson and N.C. State. The result marks the Jackets’ fifth loss in the last six contests.
In looking at the numbers:
The win is the Hokies’ third straight road win in league play.
Coach Mike Young secured the 200th conference victory of his career.
The win eased the Hokies above .500 in conference play with three games remaining.
The Hokies are now 6-1 in February.
Keve Aluma ranks third in the ACC in scoring at 17.6 points per game.
Hokie reserves are averaging 15.5 points per game. Tech’s 25 bench points Wednesday night were the second most in an ACC game this season (32, @ FSU).
Justyn Mutts’ triple-double earlier this season is only the program’s second ever (Chris Clarke in 2016). Mutts is one of three ACC players to record a triple-double this season (Alondes Williams of Wake Forest and Windell Moore, Jr., of Duke are the other two.)
Hunter Cattoor drew a charge in the UNC game, running his season total to 11. He also ranks sixth in the ACC in 3-pointers made.
As a team, the Hokies are No. 5 in the country for 3-point field-goal percentage. Wednesday’s contest did move the needle on a downward trend slightly, but the team is still one of the hottest in the nation from behind the arc. Despite being the ACC’s best 3-point shooting team, Virginia Tech shot below .300 from deep for the fourth consecutive game of the season.
Virginia Tech had 39 rebounds, the second-most in any conference game this season (41, vs. Syracuse).
The Hokies cleaned up on the offensive glass, collecting a season-high 15 offensive rebounds.