Mike Young picked up career win No. 300, and win No. 1 at Virginia Tech, in the Hokies’ 67-60 victory at Clemson on Tuesday night. Tech begins the season 1-0, with a road victory in the ACC, and the Tigers begin their 2019-20 campaign 0-1.
The story of the night was redshirt freshman wing Landers Nolley. Nolley had to sit out last season and watch Virginia Tech’s run to the Sweet 16, but he had a huge night in his college debut. He scored 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting. He was 4-of-8 from three-point range. He also had five rebounds and two steals in 37 minutes. Though at times he forced the action and had five turnovers, he was the best player on the court for either team.
Nolley’s 30 points were the most ever by a Virginia Tech freshman in his college debut. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 24 points against Detroit Mercy in his debut two seasons ago.
The ACC Digital Network put together a highlight package for Nolley:
Junior point guard Wabissa Bede, Virginia Tech’s most experienced player, had seven points, a team-high eight rebounds, and dished out six assists. He had a late turnover that nearly turned the back in Clemson’s favor, but he responded with a huge block on a three-point attempt with 45 seconds remaining and with the Hokies clinging to a 60-57 lead. Tech turned the block into a breakaway layup by redshirt freshman Tyrece Radford to make the score 62-57.
Free throw shooting down the stretch was also key. The Hokies made 13 consecutive free throws over the final 9:09 before a miss by Bede with 13 seconds remaining. That was a big turnaround, considering Tech made just one of its first six free throw attempts.
The smallish Virginia Tech team, which started 6-6 PJ Horne at center, outrebounded Clemson 44-36. Tech beat the Tigers 9-8 on the offensive glass, and won the second chance points battle 10-7. The Hokie bench also outscored the Clemson bench 18-5, with true freshman Nahiem Alleyne scoring 11 points in his college debut. He was just 2-of-9 from the field, but he was 5-of-6 from the free throw line, and make some clutch free throws down the stretch.
PJ Horne added eight points and seven rebound in 36 minutes despite facing much bigger competition in the paint.
The Clemson Tigers had a horrible shooting night, especially in the second half. They were 22-of-64 (34.4%) from the field, 7-of-29 (24.1%) from three-point range, and 9-of-15 (60%) from the free throw line for the game. The second half was even worse, as they shot just 23.3% from the field and were only 1-of-14 (7.1%) from three-point range. The Hokies were 14-of-18 (77.8%) from the free throw line in the second half, whereas Clemson was just 8-of-14 (57.1%), and that was one of the main factor’s in Tech’s win, along with their prowess on the defensive glass.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Friday night when they host Coppin State at 7pm in Cassell Coliseum. The game can be see online on ACC Network Extra. The Eagles are coached by former Maryland player and National Champion Juan Dixon.