No. 16 Virginia Tech Falls To Georgia Tech 69-53

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The Hokies were tied with Georgia Tech at halftime, but couldn’t keep up over the course of 40 minutes. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

No. 16 Virginia Tech (14-5, 8-4) couldn’t shake off the rust from its 17-day break against Georgia Tech (12-8, 8-6) on Tuesday night as the Yellow Jackets pulled away to win 69-53.

“We’re not going to blame anything. We came through a tough stretch, but Georgia Tech had the same stretch,” Head Coach Mike Young said. “We’ve all lived it. The bottom line is that we got beat by the better team tonight. I thought for the first time in recent memory, we lost our edge a little bit; we got hit in the stomach and we stepped away from it.”

53 points is the lowest scoring output for the Hokies all season with the offense unable to find any consistency throughout the game. Virginia Tech turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and shot just over 40% from the floor on the night.

“11 turnovers in the first half was sickening,” Young said. “The game is so fine, and everything is amped up here in league play. They disrupted us and had us back on our heels, so lots of credit goes to Coach Pastner and those guys.”

Virginia Tech has struggled against teams that run primarily zone defenses. Some of the Hokies’ worst offensive performances have come against VMI, Penn State, Syracuse and, now, Georgia Tech, who have all attacked them with zones. The 1-3-1 from the Yellow Jackets confused the Hokies into lots of mistakes.

“We have to do a better job of getting the ball through Aluma. We moved the ball better against Syracuse than we did tonight,” Young said. “I’ll go back and look at it, so if we have the opportunity to play them again, we’ll handle it better.”

Despite these issues, the Hokies and Yellow Jackets were tied up at 24 heading to the halftime locker rooms thanks to a great first twenty minutes from Virginia Tech’s defense. However, that didn’t carry over into the second half. Georgia Tech knocked down 61.5% of its shots in the second half on its way to a 45-point scoring outburst.

“This Hokies team has been really good on the ball defensively,” Young said. “They drove it at us, and it was really bizarre. That’s just not our team.”

Two minutes after halftime, the Hokies were down by just one following a Nahiem Alleyne three-pointer. Over the next four minutes, Georgia Tech scored 12 straight points and never looked back on its way to the victory. The Hokies seemed to lose their legs in the second half, presumably due to the time away from competition, and the Jackets took advantage.

“We just didn’t have that same toughness and connectedness that has come to define this team for me and those of us that see it every day,” Young said. “As I said, we had to get this one behind us; win, lose or draw.”

The Hokies’ defense struggled mightily against big man Moses Wright in the second half. The senior forward dominated in the paint with 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He also grabbed ten boards on his way to his second consecutive double-double.

“There were times where he scored on me one-on-one, but also some offensive rebounds when I was out trying to trap or something,” junior Keve Aluma said. “He definitely scored on me more than I would have liked.”

Aluma once again had a solid statistical game for the Hokies, also adding a double-double in the box score. Aluma had 11 first-half rebounds and turned on the scoring in the second half to tie Alleyne for the team lead with 12 points.

“I don’t think I need anything more from Keve Aluma than he has given me to date,” Young said. “He is a presence on both ends of the floor and just gobbles up so many potential mistakes with his length and tenacity. That thing goes through him often. He didn’t have his best game for him, but 12 points and 14 rebounds is pretty impressive.”

If anything good came out of Tuesday’s loss, it was the return of starting guard Tyrece Radford to the lineup. Radford missed four games due to suspension following his arrest in January. Although it took him some time to look like the old Boots that Hokies fans know, he finished the game with 11 points and seemed to improve as the game went on.

“We followed the process of the department and he was a champion throughout and did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Young said. “I’m proud of him and how he’s handled himself over the last few weeks. It’s good to have him back on the floor. He makes us a better basketball team, needless to say.”

Radford’s return is huge for the Hokies’ postseason hopes. Before his suspension, the redshirt-sophomore was playing like Virginia Tech’s best all-around player. This loss isn’t ideal for the Hokies, but if the team has much higher aspirations in the next month, Radford will be a key piece as they look to achieve them.

“He’s an amazing player, there’s nothing on the court he can’t do,” forward Justyn Mutts said. “Having him back out there is awesome. He’s my roommate and friend, so going out there and being able to play a game with someone that you’re really close with was fun. Not having him was unfortunate, but it’s really great to have him back.”

A notable Hokie was missing from the lineup on Tuesday and that was sophomore guard Jalen Cone. After suffering an ankle injury against Miami, there was optimism that Cone wouldn’t miss much time. However, he didn’t suit up against Georgia Tech, and it could be a while before the sharpshooter returns to the rotation.

“I’m not sure [about Cone’s timetable] yet,” Young said. “I think it’s too early to give you a definitive answer, but it’s going to be a bit more down the road than I had anticipated.”

Despite losing, the Hokies still hold onto third place in the conference with three games remaining. Tech will have three days to regroup before a rematch with Wake Forest in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. In mid-January, the Hokies escaped from Winston-Salem with a 64-60 win. They’ll look to get back on track with another victory over the Demon Deacons.

“You guys know how I feel about my team, and I can’t wait to get back over here on Thursday,” Young said. “We’ll give them the day off tomorrow because I think we need that, but we’ll get back over here and start our preparation for Wake Forest. We’ll play better on Saturday; I can guarantee you that.”

Box Score

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12 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. After two weeks off, they needed a super sized can of PB Blaster in the locker room. Hopefully they will be back to form on Saturday.

  2. For the second season in a row, the Hokies start out 14-5. (Also the second season in a row, taking down a No. 3 team, before ACC play!) This is a much more solid and sustainable beginning, than in 2019-2020, when the bottom fell out at the end, due to our lack of experience, height and depth, showing over time.

    I hope Cone returns soon. The layoff hurt us last night, as did the defensive twist on a 1-3-1, which GT used to good effect. (Thanks as always to @GCHokie34 for sharing his in-depth knowledge and analysis.)

    Good things are ahead of us. Yes, last night was disappointing, but it was good to see Radford get back into the lineup.

    Beat Wake Saturday, and get that 9th ACC win!

    GO, HOKIES!

  3. Last night we tried trapping the guard with the ball out front when there was a pick. Normally the person guarding the player screening, slides to stop the guard and then drops back to his man. GT used Aluma’s man to set screens and then Aluma as well the our player on the guard with the ball tried trapping. That left their post player free rolling to the basket and us having 3 to cover 4. It never resulted in any steals that I can remember but set their post player up for a big night. I don’t understand the reasoning for us doing that.

  4. After watching the game and checking out the box score, my only comment is, look at the points off turnovers for GT. VT was a turnover machine last night. Lots of lazy passing. GT just seemed like a much better team, especially in the 2nd half. GT’s zone frustrated VT all night. When VT scores 24 and 29 points, in each half, they will lose every time.

  5. We just finished a 17 day stretch without playing a game so not sure a day off is really needed at this time

  6. Georgia Tech is a very solid team and have beat 4 ranked teams this season. They started season with 2 bad losses vs. Mercer & Georgia State! (go figure!), but they have a talented team, so this is not by any means a shocking loss along with the fact we had the 17 day pause. Wright was an absolute scoring machine in the middle, which we obviously didn’t have any real answer to along with our turnovers lands us in the Loss column. Glad to see Boots return as he seemed to be back in good form in the 2nd half. CMY was class act as usual in his post game presser and I really like how he tips his hat to winning team and commits to moving forward and correcting mistakes to play better next game. Glad he is our coach as there are many wins coming our way in the future with him steering the VT BBall ship!

  7. Most disappointing loss of the season. Wanted to turn things off at the half but unfortunately decided to hang around for the even more dismal second half. Hope everyone is right about the “rust” element. If not, it could be some tough sledding from here on out. The only bright point was to see Tyrece back in action. Congratulations to him and the administration in handling things the way they did.

  8. 2 week layoff showed, -12 in turnovers??? Ball handling was bad, just plain RUST on the team. I was hoping for a close game, but so many missed shots in the 1st half lucky to be even at the half.

    So game over, they have Wake coming up and get it together and play like they know they can and wipe the floor with the Deacons. Just win baby!!!

    GO HOKIES!!!

    1. The differences in turnover pts. was 11. The difference in game points, 16. I do not agree w/CMY: We last played (Miami) on Feb. 6. GT played four (4) games beginning Feb. 10 before last night. GT did not have, “the same stretch” we did over the previous 2.5 weeks.

      1. My comment on turnovers is normally it is in Techs favor. The RUST showed. IF Tech was +4 in turnovers, possibly it is an even game. However “IF and BUTS were Candy & Nuts; maybe Tech would’ve won”

  9. This is about what I expected first game back although ending the first half tied gave me hope. Clemson was playing really well and then they had an 11 day COVID break where I think they couldn’t even practice much. They went 1-4 in their next 5 and the 4 losses were all blowouts.

    Let’s hope we’ll make it all the way back against Wake and can hang on to the double bye.

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