On Tuesday night, Virginia Tech won at Louisville for the first time since Jan. 1991 in a 71-54 contest.
The Hokies (17-13, 7-12 ACC) had lost 17 straight games in the series prior to last year’s win over the Cardinals (4-26, 2-17 ACC) in Blacksburg. But they hadn’t won in their last nine trips to the largest city in the Bluegrass State dating back to the Metro Conference days. That changed in 2023.
It wasn’t a pretty performance, but four of the five Virginia Tech starters scored in double figures. Grant Basile had 18 points (7-of-14) and added seven rebounds while Justyn Mutts posted his eighth double-double of the year with 13 points and 12 boards. Hunter Cattoor knocked down three 3-pointers and scored 11 while Sean Pedulla added 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Louisville, the worst team in the conference, has really struggled this season. While it held Tech to 37.5% shooting from the floor, it allowed 10 3-pointers (on 29 attempts, 34.5%). More importantly, the Hokies ripped off two huge runs that blew the game open – 8-0 in the first half, 14-0 in the second.
At the same time, Tech held the Cardinals to 2-of-14 from downtown. El Ellis and Mike James each scored 14 points, but they had to work for it, shooting a combined 12-of-31 (38.7%) in the process.
It was a back-and-forth game early where both sides missed a bunch of shots. But six minutes in, Tech settled down and used its 8-0 run over four-plus minutes to regain the lead. It never trailed again, and it was an eight-point margin at intermission, 35-27.
The Hokies and Cardinals traded baskets for the first 11 minutes of the second half, and both sides hit a few 3-pointers that opened up the game. In fact, Louisville used a 10-3 run over three minutes to cut the lead to three, 50-47, with 9:07 left. Kenny Payne & Co. hit five shots in a row over that stretch while Tech appeared to be hanging on.
But Tech head coach Mike Young called a timeout. His group responded afterwards with a 14-0 spurt over the next four minutes, which pushed the lead to 17. From there, it was comfortable, and UofL missed seven of its final 10 field goals.
The most interesting stat came on the glass. After getting outrebounded by eight in the first half, 23-15, the Hokies bounced back in a huge way after intermission, winning the battle by nine, 24-15. The Cardinals didn’t score too many second chance points – just 13 – but they had eight in the first 20 minutes. Tech took that away.
There was a huge difference in the second half. Tech grabbed 13 offensive boards, almost as many as its first half total of 15, and scored 17 second chance points. For the game, it had 24 in that area.
On top of that, the Hokies didn’t turn the ball over. While shots didn’t necessarily fall at a consistent rate – it was more in spurts – they controlled the tempo. There were only two fast break points for the entire game – both for VT – and they had 16 assists to five turnovers.
It was the fifth time this season that Virginia Tech had five turnovers in a game, tying a season-low. And though the team struggled on the road – it has a 2-8 record away from Blacksburg – the other instance came in its other road win in mid-February at Notre Dame.
Tech got to the free throw line plenty in the KFC Yum! Center, making 13 of its 17 attempts. There were only 26 fouls in the game – Rodney Rice (seven points) and Louisville’s Kamari Lands (four) were the other two players with three fouls.
But the big difference was on the glass. Mutts and Mylyjael Poteat each grabbed four offensive boards in the second half while Basile had three, and Virginia Tech imposed its will.
Currently sitting in 12th place in the ACC, the Hokies return to Blacksburg for senior day vs. Florida State where Justyn Mutts, Grant Basile and Hunter Cattoor are expected to be honored. The winner of the battle with the Seminoles (9-21, 7-12 ACC) will receive the No. 11 seed in the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
“They’re special people and have been just an absolute pleasure for me to coach,” Young said of his seniors on Monday. “Hunter was the first person that signed with us when I first got here. He was coming to Wofford with me, and the progress that he has made… We will also honor him before the game for scoring his 1,000th point, which is an unbelievable achievement for anyone. [He’s an] unbelievable worker.
“Grant Basile is an unbelievable worker. You know how I feel about Justin Mutts. Grant being here for only a year, he’s been a delight and has had a really good year for us. So those senior nights are bittersweet, but three men that I admire greatly.”
Box Score: Virginia Tech 71, Louisville 54
14 Responses You are logged in as Test
I was worried when the lead dwindled down to three. Then, MY took a timeout, and all of a sudden, the Hokies blew the Cardinals out of the water. I was glad to see a well used TO there, and quite successfully.
No matter what happens now, the Hokies are guaranteed an overall winning season. We can make the Big Dance by winning the ACCT again, or we might be left out of even the NIT.
How inconsistent is this team, to have four of its seven ACC wins, versus UNC, Duke, UVA, and Pitt?
You’re welcome everyone! I turned the game on late in the second half and Louisville closed the gap to 50-47 with 9:07 to play. I quickly turned it off. Then we won.
Who was the broadcast crew last night?
I don’t know but they were very annoying
The low pair on the game importance totem pole.
the tv announcers were so homely the homers turned them off.
Nice effort. Glad to see them keep fighting.
Coaching improved also. Actually had a couple of “timely time outs.” Way to go coach!!
Denny Crum is not going to be happy about this
This team is baffling. For 30+ minutes, played uninspired, was out hustled & absolutely brutalized on ‘Loo-a-vul’s’ (not ‘Loo-eee-ville’s) offensive boards; and, then, for 4 minutes played like they actually wanted to win. If they played like that for 30+ minutes, they kick the ass of every team, in what again is a very mediocre (at best), ACC.
Continued good work David.
Yeah. It is baffling. They know they are good in their heads, but without the killer instinct to eliminate the opposition, knowing you are good makes no difference at all. VT men’s hoops is too nice so to speak. If they want to get to the dance, they need to play in the ACC tournament like an angry badger.
Good stuff, this is a good team, but hasn’t been consistent especially in those games they “should” win but didn’t, so nice to see them take care of business against Lulh-ville and will even get rewarded and remembered by putting an end to a 30 year losing streak.
Thank you VT men, for ending that ugly losing streak at UL. Graet win!
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