No. 5 seed Virginia Tech led for all 40 minutes in a 71-56 victory over No. 12 seed Miami in the ACC Tournament in Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon. The Hokies improved to 24-7 with the win, and will face No. 4 seed Florida State in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The Hurricanes finished the year 14-18, and their season is over.
Tech went 3-0 against Miami this year, with all three victories coming by double digits. They beat the ‘Canes 82-70 in late January and 84-70 last Friday in Cassell Coliseum.
Kerry Blackshear led the Hokies with a double-double, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was 8-of-12 from the field, and he also had four assists. Ty Outlaw had 14 points for Tech, all in the first half, while also pulling down eight rebounds. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 12 points and six assists, while freshman guard Isaiah Wilkins came off the bench to score 10 points.
Virginia Tech was 27-of-54 (50%) from the field and 11-of-27 (40.7%) from three-point range against a Miami team that is among the ACC’s worst in overall defense. The Hokies were also very good on the defensive end, as Miami was just 19-of-56 (33.9%) from the field and 8-of-29 (27.6%) from three-point range. Tech won the rebounding battle 36-30, and had 17 assists on 27 made baskets.
The Hokies blew the doors off the Hurricanes from the opening whistle, jumping out to a quick 11-0 lead behind a trio of Ty Outlaw three-pointers. Tech continued to pour it on, first leading 23-5 after an Isaiah Wilkins three-pointer, and then 33-13 following a breakaway layup by Ahmed Hill with 5:25 remaining in the half. However, the Hurricanes weren’t quite finished at that point.
With his team trailing 38-18, Miami point guard Chris Lykes banked in a fadeaway three-pointer at the buzzer to make the halftime score 38-21. That shot began a 17-4 Miami run that spanned both halves, and with 14:54 remaining in the game the Hurricanes had cut the Tech lead to 42-35 on the back of an impressive putback dunk by center Ebeku Izundu.
As it turned out, that 17-4 run was Miami’s last gasp. Isaiah Wilkins stopped the bleeding with a layup off a great pass from Kerry Blackshear, and then Blackshear took over with a dunk and a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions to give the Hokies a 49-35 lead with 12:28 remaining in the game. The Hurricanes were never able to cut the lead to single digits again, and Tech went on to take their biggest lead of the game at 62-40 at the 8:20 mark when Wilkins made two free throws.
Both Jerry Palm of CBS and Joe Lunardi of ESPN had the Hokies as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament heading into Wednesday games, and that status is not likely to change with a win over Miami. However, Palm has Tech as the top 5-seed and Florida State as the lowest 4-seed, so it’s possible that a Hokie win over the ‘Noles on Wednesday could push Tech to a No. 4 seed. According to today’s article by Drew Scott, No. 4 seeds wins their first round matchup against No. 13 seeds 79.4% of the time, whereas No. 5 seeds win just 65.4% of the time against No. 12 seeds. Tomorrow’s result could be a big one for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech vs. FSU will begin at approximately 3pm on Thursday, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.