The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1967 after beating 12th-seeded Liberty Flames 67–58 Sunday night. The Hokies had a balanced attack on offense, with four players scoring in double figures, but the real star of the game was Tech’s stout defense that forced the Flames to shoot 38 percent from the field and 32 percent from three. Kerry Blackshear Jr. led Tech with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Ahmed Hill came up huge throughout the game with 14 points and three 3-pointers.
Tech came out sluggish in the first half, both struggling to score in the paint and defend the three-point shot. The Flames hit seven 3-pointers in the first half and were speeding up the tempo of the game, while Tech struggled to hit easy shots and get into an offensive rhythm. The Hokies found themselves trailing by three at the end of the first half, and needed to get back to what their identity has been all year: solid defense.
In the second half, Virginia Tech locked in on the defensive end — forcing bad shots and turnovers, and held the Flames to 27 percent shooting and only six field goals. On the offensive end, opting to run the offense through Blackshear Jr. and Nikeil Alexander-Walker proved successful for the Hokies, but they struggled to pull away from the Flames until the two minute mark.
Hill and Justin Robinson continue to be the heart and soul of this Hokie team; Hill was the second leading scorer and his three-point shooting helped Virginia Tech build a lead late in the game, while Robinson contributed an efficient 13 points and four assists off the bench for the Hokies.
The win in San Jose marked the 26th of the season for Virginia Tech, a program record, and head coach Buzz Williams earned his 100th win as the Hokies’ head coach. Now, the highly anticipated rematch with the one-seed Duke Blue Devils awaits this Friday, March 29, in Washington D.C.