Virginia Tech fell to No.10/11 Louisville 68-52 on Sunday evening on the road. The Hokies dropped to 15-14 overall and 6-12 in ACC play, while the Cardinals improved to 24-6 and 15-4.
This game was very competitive early, though neither team could get the lid off the basket in the opening minutes. The Hokies did not score until the 14:44 mark of the first half on a Tyrece Radford bucket. However, thanks to good defense and some missed shots by Louisville, the Radford basket actually tied the game.
The Hokies took their first lead 7-5 on a Jalen Cone three-pointer with 13:18 remaining in the half. The Cardinals would only regain the lead once for the remainder of the half. Overall the lead would change hands six times and the score was tied on 10 occasions, most of which occurred in the opening 20 minutes. The game was tied at 27 at halftime.
It continued to be close in the opening stages of the second half. A Radford jumper gave Virginia Tech a 29-27 lead, and then the Hokies led 32-29 after a Nahiem Alleyne three-pointer with 18:08 left. Tech’s final lead of the game came at the 16:10 mark of the first half on another Radford bucket to make the score 34-32.
On the ensuing possession, Louisville’s Dwayne Sutton hit a running layup and converted the free throw after a foul to put his team up 35-34. That was the beginning of a 15-2 Louisville run that ended with a Jordan Nwora free throw to make the score 47-36 with 11:13 to play. After that run, the Hokies never seriously threatened.
“I thought we were in good shape at the half,” Mike Young said. “We never turn the ball over, and then we had seven first-half turnovers and 16 for the game, which negates our play on the perimeter. They shoot the basketball so well, and we limited [them] to two made 3s at the half. But we shot ourselves in the foot and kick it seven times, which is just unnerving. We had some turnovers and bad shots to start the second half, and then you’re down 10 and you’ve got a problem.”
Nwora had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Cardinals, and he also shut down Landers Nolley on the defensive end. Nolley finished with just six points on 2-of-9 shooting, had five turnovers, and managed only one rebound.
Jalen Cone led the Hokies with 15 points. He was 5-of-10 from three-point range. Fellow freshman guard Nahiem Alleyne had 12 points and was 4-of-7 from the outside. Those two players combined to go 9-of-17 from the outside, but the rest of the team went just 1-of-13. That includes an 0-of-4 performance from Nolley and a 1-of-7 showing from PJ Horne. Radford added eight points and nine rebounds for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they host Clemson. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by The ACC Network.