Virginia Tech fell to 14-7 (5-5 ACC) following its 71-61 loss to the Miami Hurricanes. The Hokies were led by guard Tyrece Radford, who scored a career-high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds. Miami, who improved to 11-9 (3-7 ACC), got a balanced scoring effort across its team as four players scored in double figures.
After the game, Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young spoke highly of Radford.
“He’s an amazing person and really an aggressive kid offensively and defensively,” Young said.
The Hokies started the game well, grabbing an early 12-9 lead, led by Wabissa Bede, who dished out three assists during the early minutes of the game. This stretch to open the game was highlighted by Radford’s strong and-one bucket.
Virginia Tech ran into trouble, however, with around 12 minutes left in the first half, with the score tied at 17 apiece. Miami went on a 24-2 run across the next eight minutes of play, opening up a huge 41-19 lead with four minutes to go until the halftime break.
“Everybody we play is going to have a height advantage, nothing we haven’t seen,” coach Young said about Miami’s run. “I just thought they were a lot quicker than we were.”
Miami’s run was sparked by center Rodney Miller, who scored a tough layup plus the foul to put Miami up 20-17. Rodney Miller finished the first half with 11 points, with seven of them coming during this big run. Miami hit just two 3-pointers during this stretch as they did most of their work inside the paint and from the mid-range.
The Hokies, meanwhile, made just one of their 10 shot attempts and committed four turnovers as Miami took control of the game. Tech trailed 44-25 as the players and coaches walked into the locker room at halftime.
Overall, the Hokies made just nine of their 26 shot attempts from the floor in the first half while allowing Miami to shoot over 57% from the field. The Hokies were also outscored from the paint 22-10 by the Hurricanes at the break.
The second half opened for the Hokies with a mid-range jumper from guard Nahiem Alleyne, but they struggled to build any momentum. They managed to get the deficit down to 14 points after a Hunter Cattoor 3-pointer with 13 minutes left in the game, but struggled to defend as they continued to trade baskets with the Hurricanes.
With around four minutes left in the contest, Virginia Tech began to make its rally, but it proved to be too little, too late. Forward Landers Nolley II, who struggled from the field for much of this game, knocked down a 3-point shot to bring Tech to within 10 at 61-51, followed by a Radford layup following an offensive rebound by Nolley II.
With the Hokies trailing 63-54 with under two minutes to go, Tech’s full court pressure defense allowed them to force Miami into two turnovers. The Hokies turned these into easy points as they fought to within four points at 63-59. This was the closest the Hokies would get as turnovers and fouls derailed their comeback hopes; Virginia Tech went on to lose this game by a score of 71-61.
A key reason for this loss was Tech’s lack of trips to the free throw line, as well as its inefficiency when they did go to the line. As a team, the Hokies shot just five-for-nine on their free throw attempts; Miami, by comparison, went 13 for 16 from the line.
“We are in a bit of a rut on both ends of the floor to be honest,” Young said. “But we’ll get back home and figure it out.”
The Hokies will face a huge test when they play host to No. 5 Florida State at Cassell Coliseum this Saturday, Feb. 1, at 4 p.m.