Virginia Tech continued what has been a magical season thus far on Saturday night, beating its rival, the Virginia Cavaliers for the first time since 2018, 65-51.
The Hokies caught fire in the second half, ending the game with marks of 50.0% from the floor, 50.0% from three, and 85.7% from the free throw line. Hunter Cattoor had a particularly good shooting night, hitting three three-point shots and scoring 15 points. Virginia Tech improved to 8-2 in the ACC and moved to second in the conference with the win.
The real story of this game was the performance of star big man Keve Aluma. The Hokies’ star player finished the game with 29 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a block. The junior has been the catalyst for most of the team’s success this season, and is helping them get off to one of their best starts in the history of the program.
UVA held the lead for most of the first half, even going up by 10 at one point in the game. However, about 12 minutes into the second half, Virginia Tech turned up the intensity, going on a spectacular 19-0 run to take a commanding lead, with seven of those points coming from Aluma.
Many thought the Hokies would take a step back after losing their second-leading scorer Tyrece Radford to suspension. However, the team hasn’t missed a beat, winning their second straight game on Saturday and continuing to move up the ACC standings. The Hokies had a disappointing loss against Syracuse a week ago, but all in all, this team has shown competitiveness and poise.
The team’s new identity seems to be focused on team defense and physicality, something that is definitely helped by the addition of Aluma. In a year like no other, Virginia Tech may have a real chance to win the ACC, if they can keep up their momentum over the next month.
The Hokies have a relatively pedestrian upcoming slate, as they will face off against the 8-4 Pittsburgh Panthers on Wednesday and match up against struggling 6-10 Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. Their next real test will come against the No. 16 Florida State Seminoles on Feb. 9.