No. 20 Virginia Tech (12-3, 6-2) completed the sweep of Notre Dame (5-9, 2-6) on Wednesday night with a 62-51 win in the Hokies’ first game without Tyrece Radford.
“I think everybody on this team goes into every game trying to give it their all,” forward Justyn Mutts said. “Boots [Radford] is a big part of this team, so not having him was unfortunate, but I think everybody was able to step up. It really is a next man up mentality.”
Head Coach Mike Young needed others to step up following Radford’s suspension over the weekend, and his players did not disappoint. Four players scored in double figures with Mutts and Keve Aluma both posting double-doubles. The Hokies’ starting frontcourt each had 14 points and combined for 23 rebounds in South Bend.
“We’ve got a lot of confident guys, so on any night, any one of us can be confident and take over,” Aluma said. “We were all able to go out there and make plays.”
“We have so many guys that can pop off on any night,” Mutts said. “Nahiem Alleyne can get it done, not just as a shooter, but on the inside, too, which not too many people know.”
Hunter Cattoor also finished in double-digits, with almost all of his production coming in the first half. He had four three-pointers in the first twenty minutes, leading the Hokies to a nine-point halftime lead. He finished with 13 points.
Just like in the first match-up with the Irish, the Hokies were able to pull out the win with dominant defense. Tech forced 12 turnovers on the night and held Notre Dame to just 35.7% shooting from the field and 16.7% from long range. The Irish’s 51 points was their lowest scoring output of the season.
“I think we have a group of guys that like playing as a unit. When you have guys that aren’t selfish and want to see each other succeed,” Mutts said. “You got somebody right there in the gap, you don’t have to guard one-on-one all the time. On top of that we have really good athletes and really good fundamental basketball players that want to just play great defense.”
“Laszewski is a really good shooter, and if you don’t switch on him, he’ll spread out away from the ball and they’ll throw it back to him and he’ll make it,” Young said. “I can’t tell you how many games that he’s made four or five three-pointers.”
The only bright spot offensively for the Irish was point guard Prentiss Hubb, who scored 17 of Notre Dame’s 22 first-half points. He slowed down in the second half with just five points, but finished as the only member of the Fighting Irish in double figures.
“I think Wabissa Bede is the unsung hero walking out of the arena tonight with his work on Hubb,” Young said. “He made life tough for him, and Prentiss is a really good basketball player.”
This win keeps the Hokies in third place and earns them their sixth ACC win of the year. In Young’s first year in Blacksburg, Tech didn’t win its sixth game in the conference until its 14th game on February 15th.
For the Hokies, earning that seventh win will be tough with No. 8 Virginia coming to Blacksburg on Saturday night. The Cavaliers have won seven in a row, all in the ACC, since losing to No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 26. Tech will look to pull off the upset and beat UVA for the first time since 2018.