It wasn’t pretty, but the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will take the win and move on.
In what turned into a back-and-forth battle with Louisville to open ACC play, the Hokies were able to pull away from the Cardinals late in the game from the free throw line for a 75-68 win at Cassell Coliseum.
Virginia Tech trailed most of the first half and by a point, 31-30, at halftime, but rallied in the second half, getting stops when they needed to. Louisville is a vastly improved team from last season under Kenny Payne and is headed in the right direction, but the Hokies made it more difficult for themselves than it needed to be.
Here are some key observations after the Hokies improved to 6-3 overall and ended a two-game losing streak.
Virginia Tech observations from win over Louisville
- The first half was a mess for both teams, but it felt like the Hokies issues were more self-inflicted. They turned it over seven times, but honestly, it felt like a lot more. Louisville turned it over 11 times and that’s what allowed Virginia Tech to be down just one at halftime.
- Collins returned after missing Wednesday’s loss at Auburn with a monster game off the bench. He had 20 points, including a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line and a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc. He played strong defense and was a huge spark for Mike Young’s team.
- Lynn Kidd had a strong game with 19 points and he had three early dunks in the second half to get the Hokies going. He only had four rebounds, but he hit some big free throws in the second half. His presence continues to be huge for Young.
Louisville did a nice job containing Hunter Cattoor and held him to 12 points and five of those came from the free-throw line. They forced him off the 3-point line and frustrated him. He looked frustrated as the game went on, but he took some huge charges defensively.
Sean Pedulla had another average game by his standards. He finished with a quiet eight points, five rebounds, four turnovers, and four fouls. Young did a nice job navigating him defensively late in the game when he had four fouls.
The 45 points in the second half for the Hokies came mostly inside and at the free-throw line. They got a lot around the basket.
Virginia Tech finished 24-for-55 from the field and 5-for-20 on 3-pointers. Where was the game won? At the free-throw line as they went 22-for-27.
Talk about balance, the Cardinals had five players in double figures and spread the ball around. Their athleticism caused problems for the Hokies all night.
Louisville’s pressure was something that bothered Virginia Tech like it did at Auburn. They are going to have to handle it better as they are going to see more and more of it this season.