UNCASVILLE, CT — After Saturday’s thrilling overtime victory over #3 Villanova, Virginia Tech was able to avoid a letdown Sunday evening and beat South Florida, 76-58, improving to 3-0.
“Coming off of that thing last night and everything that went into it with regulation and the botched play and getting to overtime and having to go again, certainly concerned me. We had to come back, dial it up again and play South Florida,” Head Coach Mike Young said. “We weren’t great by any stretch, but pretty darn good. I’m proud of those guys and their quick turnaround and preparation to come over here and execute our stuff pretty well.”
The Hokies were led in scoring by sophomore Tyrece Radford with 21 points. On Saturday, he played 44 minutes, but he showed no signs of fatigue against USF. He was able to make nine of his 12 shots on the day and hit his second three-pointer of the season. He only made one all of his freshman year.
“Coming off of yesterday’s game, we had to keep the same intensity that we had,” Radford said. “My team kept me pumped up, and we just stuck together and fought it out.”
Keve Aluma didn’t quite have the same scoring numbers as his first two performances in the maroon and orange, but he was still effective. He entered Sunday’s contest averaging 21 points per game and was the Hokies’ leading scorer in both of their first two games.
Against the Bulls, Aluma put up 12 points, including two more three-pointers. He is now six-of-nine on the season from beyond the arc.
Part of the reason for Aluma’s lower scoring output was due to the emergence of Cordell Pemsl. The transfer from Iowa played 19 minutes against USF after only playing 15 in the first two games combined.
He took advantage of his opportunity, adding ten points and six rebounds and forcing multiple offensive fouls on the defensive side.
“They really move well in transition, and I thought they did a really good job on the defensive glass. We fought like crazy on the glass,” Young said. “Pemsl helped because he’s bigger, stronger, older, and he’s been around the Big Ten.”
Hunter Cattoor finished the game with 13 points for the Hokies, while Kansas State transfer Cartier Diarra added 10. Tech was 27-of-50 (54%) from the field and made 17-of-21 (81%) free throws.
The Hokies’ defense has looked much improved this season with more size and experience in the frontcourt. Sophomore John Ojiako is currently out with a slight injury, but when he returns to the lineup, Tech will have a steady rotation of big men that can compete with the size of the ACC.
After one week of the season, few teams have stood out as much as the Hokies. Undefeated and with a win over a top-3 opponent, there is a chance that Tech could be ranked for the first time in the Mike Young era.
“I’d be happy about that, but with everything going on, we’re just three games in. You can’t get too fat and happy or you’ll get a baseball bat across the kneecaps,” Young said. “You better keep your head down and keep chopping wood. That’s what we intend to do.”
Tech, ranked or not, will face VMI on Thursday in their next matchup as they begin a six-game home that lasts the entire month of December. The Hokies have two more non-conference games before they begin conference play against Clemson on December 15.
Game Notes From Virginia Tech
Records and Notables
- Virginia Tech improves to 3-0 on the season after defeating USF 76-58.
- The Hokies have now started the season 3-0 for the fifth straight season.
- Tech earned a 5-4 lead in the overall series with the Bulls after tonight’s win. The two squads
previous meeting was a 74-64 Tech win in 1995.
- Mike Young gets his first win over USF head coach Brian Gregory in four attempts.
- Young improves his neutral court record to 3-3 at Tech.
- UP NEXT: The Hokies will return to Blacksburg to play host to VMI on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET inside Cassell Coliseum
- Virginia Tech went with its third different starting lineup against USF with Wabissa Bede, Tyrece Radford, Nahiem Alleyne, Justyn Mutts and Keve Aluma all making the start.
- The Hokies shot 54% from the field and outscored USF in the paint by a 42-24 margin.
- Tech’s bench has now scored 20 or more points in back-to-back outings with 33 tonight and 25 against No. 3/3 Villanova.
- The Hokies forced the Bulls to commit 13 turnovers, and capitalized by scoring 19 points off those turnovers.
- Tech only gave up three three-pointers, which is the lowest 3-pointer total an opponent has had against the Hokies this season.
- KEY FIRST HALF RUN: The Hokies closed out the half by going on an 11-2 run which was capped off by a 3-pointer by Keve Aluma as the time ticked away to put Tech up 36-23 at the break.
- KEY SECOND HALF RUN: With just over 15 minutes left in action the Hokies went on an 8-2 run which included four straight paint points to put Tech up 49-32. The Hokies led by double-digits for the rest of the outing and eased past the Bulls 76-58.
- Guard Tyrece Radford had a season-high and game-high 21 points in the win over USF.
- Forward Keve Aluma scored 12 points against the Bulls, which is the third consecutive game in which he has reached double-figures in points.
- Redshirt-junior Justyn Mutts grabbed a season-high nine rebounds at Tech in his second-ever start for the Hokies.
- Graduate student CordellPemsl recorded 10 points, which are the most he has scored since Nov. 24, 2019, against Cal Poly when he was at Iowa.