After receiving the news of Tyrece Radford’s indefinite suspension on Monday, Virginia Tech responded to adversity in the form of a 62-51 win against Notre Dame Wednesday night.
“We played really well defensively and rebounded again,” said Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young. “I thought that was the difference in the game at our place and same thing here today.”
Virginia Tech was led by Keve Aluma who notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Nahiem Alleyne added a team high 15 points with nine rebounds.
After a poor shooting start from both teams, the Hokies were able to gain separation in the first half thanks to strong defense, holding Notre Dame to 32% shooting from the field and forcing nine turnovers.
Hunter Catoor provided a spark for Virginia Tech, scoring 12 points in the opening 20 minutes as the 46% three-point-shooter knocked down four triples.
“Catoor was good,” Young said. “We’re going to have a couple of games here down the stretch, I hope, when Cone, Nahiem and Hunter all three are shooting it really really well.”
The Fighting Irish were able to stay in the game due to the play of junior guard Prentiss Hubb, who scored 17 first half points and led all scorers with 22. Still, Virginia Tech went into the locker room leading 31-22.
In the second half, the Hokies started to play through their front court of Aluma and Justyn Mutts, who scored a combined 28 points and 13 rebounds.
“[Mutts] is an aggressive guy,” Young said. “He’s a tough dude.”
A defining sequence in the second half occurred with Virginia Tech leading 40-29 four minutes in. Aluma turned it over above the three point line, leading to a Notre Dame fast break. Aluma hustled back, chasing down an easy layup and blocking it off the glass. The block led to a pretty alley-oop pass from Alleyne to Mutts, and it set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Hokies finished with four players in double figures and shot 40% from the field after a 14-29 shooting performance in the second half.
With a matchup against No. 8 Virginia looming on Saturday, Virginia Tech is going to need to keep up the same defensive effort if they want to pull off the upset.
“[They are] a really good team,” Young said. “Another very good UVA team, we’ll have to be on our toes. We’ll have to play really good basketball, again we’re looking forward to the competition.”