Date: Tuesday, December 29
TV: ACC Network
Before the calendar flips to 2021 on Friday, No. 24 Virginia Tech (7-1, 1-0) has one final matchup on Tuesday when Miami (4-2, 0-1) comes to Cassell Coliseum.
Each team has had over a week to prepare for this matchup as neither of the groups has played since before the holidays. The Hokies are coming in hot off of three-straight wins including back-to-back blowouts of Coppin State and Longwood.
Miami was able to rebound from consecutive home losses to Florida Gulf Coast and Pittsburgh with a win over Jacksonville last Saturday. The Hurricanes have been battling through injuries all season and hope to be healthier on Tuesday night.
Senior guards Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty have each missed the previous two games with Lykes being injured since the Hurricanes played Stetson on December 4. The two veteran guards were Miami’s top returning scorers coming into the year and their status could have a large bearing on the outcome of the game.
To pick up the slack, sophomore Isaiah Wong has been lighting it up offensively. Wong is averaging 19 points per game which is good for second in the ACC. He’s scored 20 or more in each of the last three games and will be a tough matchup for the Hokies.
Wong should feel right at home in Cassell Coliseum after his performance in the Hurricanes’ last trip to Blacksburg. Miami sealed the season-sweep last February in a triple-overtime thriller, 102-95. Wong led the way with 27 points, a career high.
Tech’s backcourt will surely have its hands full whether Lykes and McGusty play or not with Wong’s ability to score. The Hokies’ group will still be thin with Cartier Diarra’s decision to opt out ahead of Tech’s win over Clemson. It remains to be seen whether Diarra will come back to the team, but for now Wabissa Bede is the only true point guard on the roster.
This has meant increased minutes for sophomore Jalen Cone at the one and the two. Coming off of the bench, Cone has found a rhythm shooting from the outside after missing Tech’s first three games. Cone has drained 11 three-pointers over the last two games, including six of the Hokies’ ten against Longwood, leading Tech in scoring with 18 points in both contests.
After the time off over the last week, Tech could be getting some help down low in the form of sophomore John Ojiako. Head Coach Mike Young has hinted that the big man might be ready to return from a torn meniscus he suffered right before the season.
Virginia Tech's John Ojiako (knee) will play tonight against Miami, per Mike Young.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 29, 2020
Ojiako’s return will provide the Hokies with a solid rotation of players in the post and should take some responsibility off of leading-scorer Keve Aluma’s shoulders. Aluma currently leads the Hokies with 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
The Hokies will look to extend their winning streak to four and enter the new year still undefeated in the conference. Tech will have a quick turnaround after the match-up with Miami, heading out on the road to face rival Virginia on Saturday.