BLACKSBURG – The new era of Virginia Tech men’s basketball kicks off tonight in a familiar place for its new head coach.
Tech’s Mike Young, the former Wofford – located in South Carolina – head coach goes back to his second home with his young Hokies (10 underclassmen) in hopes of starting off ACC play 1-0.
In a place he knows well, Young and Co. will seek to take down Clemson on its home court in Lilltejohn Coliseum at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Roy Philpott (play-by-play) and Paul Biancardi (analyst) will be on the call, while Jon Laaser (play-by-play) and Mike Burnop (analyst) will broadcast on Virginia Tech Sports Properties.
The Hokies are 5-10 all-time in ACC openers, owning a 4-4 mark at home and a 1-6 away record. The lone road win to begin league play came on Dec. 8, 2013 at Miami (Fla.). However, Tech has won three of its last four ACC openers.
The last time the Tigers and Hokies faced each other, Clemson came away with the upper hand, winning 59-51 on Feb. 9 in Clemson. Among returning players from that matchup, Jonathan Kabongo was the lone player to score for Tech, hitting a 3-pointer. Fellow guard Wabissa Bede pulled down six rebounds, swiped four steals and dished out three assists.
Tech leads the all-time series against Clemson 19-16, but is 7-10 all-time in Clemson. However, the Hokies have won four of the last five contests. Ironically, last year’s loss to Clemson was the only time Tech lost back-to-back games in 2018-19 after dropping the previous game to then-No. 16 Louisville.
• The Tigers are coming off a 75-48 victory over Anderson (Division II) last Wednesday inside Littlejohn Coliseum. The exhibition saw four Clemson players score in double figures led by Aamir Simms and his double-double (team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds).
• Head coach Brad Brownell enters his 10th season in Clemson, following a four-year stint at Wright State. With the Tigers, Brownell has worked his way up to second all-time in program history for wins at Clemson, being just 13 shy of taking over as the winningest coach in school history.
• Similar to the Hokies, Clemson returns just one starter from a year ago in Simms, who averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. The 6-foot-8 big looks to get his points on the block, with the offense running through him and his 240-pound frame.
• Among ACC teams last winter, Clemson got it done defensively, owning the third-best scoring defense mark with just allowing 63.9 points per game. Tech was also stellar on the defensive end, allowing 62.1 points per game to rank second in the league. However, both teams lose a combined eight starters from those defensive stout squads.