Hokies beat Louisville in ACC opener
BLACKSBURG – A back-and-forth contest, Virginia Tech had three players reach double figures as the Hokies defeated Louisville 75-68 Sunday evening inside Cassell Coliseum.
Virginia Tech’s 31 bench points to Louisville’s 10 were key in the victory. Tech (6-3, 1-0) also won the points in the paint battle, scoring 36 to Louisville’s 26. MJ Collins
led all scorers with a career-high 20 points on 3 for 3 shooting from long range and a 7 for 7 effort from the foul line.
Skyy Clark led five Cardinals (4-4, 0-1) in double figures with 16 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Hunter Cattoor’s layup opened up the scoring for Tech 30 seconds in. Lynn Kidd followed a few minutes later with a dunk, putting the Hokies down 10-4.
Sean Pedulla’s first basket, a layup, put Tech within six. Back to back baskets from Cattoor put the Hokies down two with 11 minutes left in the half.
Another Kidd dunk put Tech within three at the five minute mark. An MJ Collins 3-pointer made the score 26-22 in Louisville’s favor with a little over three minutes to go.
Collins’ And-1 layup put Tech within two points with a minute and a half remaining. Tyler Nickel followed that with a 3-pointer to put Tech down one. Louisville led 31-30 at halftime.
A Kidd layup and dunk gave Tech the lead and started the second half scoring. Pedulla followed with a layup of his own to put the Hokies up 36-31 and force a Louisville timeout.
Mylyjael Poteat’s layup gave Tech a 42-39 lead with around 14 minutes left. Collins’ free throws notched the score at 44-44. Poteat’s and-1 layup pushed the Hokies’ lead to three.
Robbie Beran’s layup put Tech up one. Poteat followed with a slam. Collins’ tip-in gave the Hokies a three-point lead. Eight minutes were left in the game.
Collins’ 3-pointer gave Tech a six-point lead with four minutes to go. Two free throws from Pedulla gave the Hokies a three-point lead with a minute and a half left in the contest.
Free throws from Kidd and Pedulla gave Tech a six point lead with 30 seconds remaining. The Hokies won 75-68.
With the win tonight, Virginia Tech extends its winning streak against Louisville to three. Coach Mike Young is 3-2 all-time against Louisville.
VT is 9-11 in ACC openers all time. They have now won two in a row.
The Hokies hung right around their average free-throw percentage for the season, shooting 81.5%. An average of 80.1% ranks sixth nationally.
Tech’s 22 made free throws is its sixth game this season making 20-plus free throws. The Hokies had two such games last season.
MJ Collins provided a much needed spark off the bench, scoring a career high 20 points and pouring in clutch baskets. This was Collins’ first game back from an injury suffered against FAU on Nov. 26.
“I thought we guarded well, only allowing 31 points in the first half. We didn’t play well but I credit Louisville. I watched them play Indiana and they did everything but win the game. They did the same against Texas, so we knew we had our hands full. That’s a better Louisville team, Kenny [Payne] is doing a very nice job with them and I feel good to get out of here with the league opener victory.” – head coach Mike Young
“We needed a shot of confidence; I thought I saw a team that was lacking some confidence. We have a lot to look forward to, so we’re trying to play better basketball and do it with great urgency and energy.” – head coach Mike Young
“We had him [MJ Collins] on the floor Friday and Saturday. He said he felt ready to go, and thank goodness he was. He played a good ball game. To win different ways and have MJ Collins step to the plate was good.” – head coach Mike Young
UP NEXT Tech continues its four-game homestand next Saturday, Dec. 9 vs. Valparaiso at noon inside Cassell Coliseum.