Virginia Tech men’s basketball opened the Mike Young era Tuesday with an away game against Clemson. Tech comes into the season with a completely overhauled roster that has lost the most minutes, scoring, rebounding and shooting in the entire ACC. On the other hand, Clemson gets a decent amount of its rotation players back from last year and will also welcome two transfer prospects in Tevin Mack and Khavon Moore, who are both sure to play consistent minutes.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that ended with Clemson taking a three-point lead into halftime. In the second half, the score would continue to shift back and forth until Tech went on a 6-0 scoring run aided by a burst of scoring from Landers Nolley II to open up a five-point gap with 4:59 left in the game.
Nolley proved why he will most likely be Tech’s top-scoring option in this game as he led all scorers with a 30-point performance in his first game.
“My teammates just looked for me,” Nolley said after the game. “I hit the open shot. I hit the shot when I got the opportunity and just helped my teammates get our first win.”
Senior guard Wabissa Bede also made his presence known with eight points, six assists and seven rebounds. Bede would also provide two key plays in the closing minutes that would help seal the game for the Hokies. The first play came when Clemson’s full-court press trapped Tech’s Hunter Cattoor in the corner and forced him to throw the ball in desperation. Cattoor’s pass ricocheted off several players until being reeled in by Bede, who would then kick it to P.J. Horne for a dunk in transition that gave the Hokies a three-point lead.
Bede’s second big play came during Clemson’s ensuing offensive possession in which Tiger guard Al-Amir Dawes rose up for a potential game-tying 3-pointer. Bede quickly closed in on Dawes, blocked the three and dished the loose ball out to Tyrece Radford for a transition layup which increased the Hokies’ lead to five points and all but sealed the win.
Tonight’s win showed us a lot about this team; it mainly showed that they are not going to let the lack of experience on the roster stop them from winning games. This win also serves as Mike Young’s 300th as a Division I head coach.
With a season-opening conference victory in the books, the Hokies now return to Blacksburg to prepare for their home opener against Coppin State at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.