Date: Tuesday, December 8
After a year off from the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, No. 15 Virginia Tech (4-0) will take on Penn State (2-1) for the second time in three years on Tuesday night from Cassell Coliseum.
The goal for the Hokies will be to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself against the Nittany Lions. Tech traveled up to State College in 2018 as an undefeated top-15 team and left with its first mark in the loss column on the year.
Four players scored in double-figures in that game for the Hokies, but they were also the only four players to score at all. With no help off of the bench, Tech couldn’t put it together in the final seconds, falling 63-62.
Wabissa Bede is the only player on the current roster who played in that game two years ago. After coming off the bench last time, Bede hopes to lead the Hokies and continue the undefeated start to the year.
Tech hasn’t played since Thursday when the Hokies beat VMI, 64-57, in what was a much tighter game than many would have expected. They slipped by the Keydets despite shooting 35% from the field and sub-15% from three-point range.
The Keydets are a common opponent for the Nittany Lions and the Hokies early in this season. Penn State opened their season with VMI, and just like Tech, they trailed in the second half. However, after falling behind 45-44, PSU went on a 17-3 run and never looked back on its way to an 86-65 win.
PSU has a much quicker turnaround heading into Tuesday’s contest against the Hokies. While Tech has four days off between games, PSU lost in overtime to Seton Hall on Sunday night. Penn State blew an 11-point halftime lead to drop its first game of the season against the Pirates.
The key for the Hokies will be to slow down sophomore forward Seth Lundy, who has dominated over the last two games. Since an average performance against VMI, Lundy is shooting 57% from the field and is averaging 27.5 points per game in the last two contests.
Lundy takes over the reins from Lamar Stevens, who graduated after starting every game over his four-year career with PSU. Stevens averaged double-digit points in all four seasons and was on the late season watchlist for the Wooden Award during his senior year. After seeing limited action as a freshman, the 6-foot-6 Lundy has taken over right where Stevens left off and should be a focal point for the Hokies’ defense.
Tech will get a boost with Kansas State transfer Cartier Diarra returning to the lineup. Diarra was ineligible for the matchup with VMI after missing an early-morning COVID test the day before the game.
This will be the closest the Hokies have been to full-strength this season with Diarra and sophomore Jalen Cone back on the court. The last piece of the puzzle, big man John Ojiako, is still sidelined with a knee injury.
Virginia Tech-Penn State is one of seven games in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge that will tip off on Tuesday night, with seven more to follow on Wednesday. This is the 22nd annual matchup between the two conferences with the ACC leading 12-6-3 in the event all-time. However, the ACC won the first ten matchups before only winning two of the most recent eleven challenges.
The Hokies look to add a point to the ACC side at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night while also striving for their third consecutive 5-0 start to a season. The game will be televised by ESPNU.