Clemson Out-Muscles Virginia Tech In Regular Season Finale

Virginia Tech lost on Saturday, making life on the bubble a little more difficult. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young didn’t have much to say after Saturday’s 63-59 road loss at Clemson to end the regular season.

“Pretty important,” Young said when asked about crucial a run in next week’s ACC Tournament is.

Understandably, he was frustrated. The Hokies (19-12, 11-9 ACC) outplayed the Tigers (16-15, 8-12 ACC) in the first half and led 33-30 at intermission. However, the tide turned after halftime.

In a very physical game, Clemson was the aggressor. After shooting a 44% clip in the first 20 minutes, Tech hit just 31% in the second half. And from behind the arc, that number dropped from seven made 3-pointers to two.

The Tigers ended the first half on a 6-0 run and turned it into a 10-0 stretch after the break, which catapulted them into the lead. Though the lead changed hands five times from that point on, Clemson had full control.

Nahiem Alleyne, who led the way for Tech with 17 points and five rebounds, had just five and one in the second half. Potential First Team All-ACC performer Keve Aluma finished with seven points and eight rebounds, but he didn’t record a point down the stretch and had just two boards.

Justyn Mutts sparked Tech, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the latter stages of the game, but outside of Sean Pedulla adding six in the second half, there wasn’t much help.

The Hokies missed 11 opportunities from 3-point range and only four players scored when they needed it. The situation was similar to early ACC games this season where Young & Co. struggled in the last five minutes of games.

On the contrary, Clemson was quite good. 50% (12-of-24) from the field, 4-of-9 from deep. And the story of the game was PJ Hall, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half on 4-of-6 shooting.

Hall, Al-Amir Dawes and Alex Hemenway all came off the bench and combined for 41 points, the highest total Tech has allowed from opposing reserves all season. Hemenway had 11, while Dawes added 10. The trio made 11 of their 19 attempts (57%), while only three Tech players (Mutts, Maddox and Murphy) shot over 50% (on 15 total shots).

Darius Maddox was one of three Tech players to shoot above 50%. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Turnovers (13) were an issue for the Hokies, but it ultimately came down to the final seconds. Alleyne had two 3-point opportunities from the wing in a two-second span with less than 20 seconds remaining but missed both. In all, seven shots from long range in the final five minutes didn’t fall.

The Tigers just played Tech straight up. There was hand-checking and guys running over each other. Players were flying all over the floor and getting knocked down. But that’s just how the ball rolled in Littlejohn Coliseum.

Now the Hokies sit at 19 wins with the ACC Tournament approaching in the coming days. In Brooklyn, Tech is the No. 7 seed and will face the winner of No. 10 Clemson and No. 15 NC State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

As for the NCAA Tournament bubble, Tech’s still on it. 13 other teams in the same spot played on Saturday, so there will be some shakeup, but the Hokies aren’t out of it just yet.

The mark of 22 wins, which likely would be enough to get them into the tournament, is still achievable. Moreover, that would put Tech in the ACC Tournament title game, a place it’s never been before. The likes of No. 2 seed Notre Dame, No. 4 North Carolina and No. 6 Virginia loom on VT’s side of the bracket, but it’s a fairly favorable path.

A win at Clemson, which would’ve given Tech a 20-11 (12-8) record, would’ve put the Hokies one victory closer to dancing in March. Instead, they’re going to have to make some noise in Brooklyn.

Box Score: Link 

26 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I’m blaming that loss on wearing those orange jerseys @Clemson, it took my a full half to get use to thinking the orange team was VT

  2. We ever play any sport well in New York. Alas, I have no confidence in winning even one game.

    1. I would tend to agree but we will play GT or Louisville. I like our chances there.

  3. Aluma would be smart to stay at Tech for another year. He isn’t ready for European bb either. His play this year has been inconsistent to say the least.

    1. And continue to remake his body. Add 5-6 pounds of muscle, and he could be an all ACC first team type player. Along with picking up a master’s degree free of charge…

    2. If he isnt ready now he wont be in ‘23.

      The pro leagues, unlike colleges, don’t value 25 year old men as rookies. Whatever deficits Keve may have in ur mind are talent issues, nothing else.

      Besides, u surely realize he wont be a 5 at professional level? Hes a small forward.

      1. Agreed, for the NBA. I would say he’s a PF in Europe, where he can make a nice living for a few years. Ace Custis can be a guide for that process.

    1. Mutts had a total brain fart game. He’s usually our spark plug for hustle and garbage rebounds, putbacks. Unfortunately i think he just forgot to switch off the meditation state at jump🤣

  4. Game Summary:

    VT CLE
    59 63 Final Score
    27 24 From Three Point Shots
    20 26 From Two Point Shots
    12 13 From Free Throws

    Biggest VT Lead: 9 (33-24)
    Biggest CLE Lead: 6 (50-44)
    Last Tie (of 5): 54-54
    Last Lead Change: CLE 56, VT 54
    It Was Over: CLE 60, VT 57

    Momentum is a fickle thing. A nine point lead late in the first half, suddenly slipped away. The Hokies (19-12, 11-9) were unable to keep up the pace, went cold in the last 20 minutes, and just could not finish strong. Mike Young’s charges are now in a position where they probably need to win at least two games in the ACCT, to have any kind of a shot at the Big Dance. Tech plays Wednesday night as the 7th Seed, and might well play these same Tigers, who have some momentum of their own, now.

  5. You have to want it more and turn that into points. Same ending how many times this year?

    1. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. These guys are so talented, but their “mean streak” isn’t at the same level as their talent.

  6. Clemson did a good job of guarding our 3-point shooters. The natural adjustment is to go to Aluma and Mutts, but Aluma seemed out of sorts, frustrated, maybe a bit intimidated. That gave us limited options when the 3’s were not falling. The guys played hard but it was a sub-par performance. I guess if we were destined to lose one, this may have been better than losing in the 1st round of the ACC Tournament to someone like GT. We need to make a run now.

      1. He didn’t take it too him. When he and Mutts took the first shots of the game from the 3 I knew it wasn’t going to be a fight day.

    1. Completely agree. Open shots were hard to come by and when we got a chance we were rushing shots. Many bad misses down the stretch. They blanketed are best shooters and left our big guys open outside. Maddox couldn’t shake free. It seems as though we should have been able to do more damage down low but didn’t work out that way. But, with a chance to tie our best shooter of the night NA had two decent looks and missed both.

    2. After challanging the elite bigs in ACC i doubt Keve was intimidated by anyone or any situation.

      My read is our guards and wing failed to get him the ball where he needs it. Clemson locked up our guards well.

      1. I agree, Aluma has gotten better with the Bigs. As has N’Guessan (and with a lot of other things). I just keep scratching my head about Ojiako. He’s been done a disservice by not getting more PT this year. Most haven’t seen him play…but he’s good, and not completely and utterly void of confidence when he goes in. He’s our only true big.

  7. Well at least we won’t have to listen to Lunardi’s bubble babble for the next few days. So sad.

  8. “The situation was similar to early ACC games this season where Young & Co. struggled in the last five minutes of games.” That about covers it.

    I would add if we do see Clemson again inthe ACC tournament and we don’t win, well … we deserve nothing more than the NIT. If we B slap them in the ACC tournament then ok, tonight’s game was just the challenge of winning an ACC away game.

    So, we shall see. I expect us to find a way to lose another game against Clemson due to persistent turnovers bug and lack of shooting when it is needed.

    Love these guys, the spirit is willing but the flesh . . . is not enough.

    1. No, it’s the talent that is not enough………no consistency whatsoever.

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