After a slow start, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team opened up a four-game home stand with a definitive 82–60 win against the North Carolina A&T Aggies and improve to 10–1 on the season.
The No. 13 Hokies returned to Blacksburg following a crucial win in the Boardwalk Classic against the Washington Huskies in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The win against North Carolina A&T is the first game of a four-game holiday home stand for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech got off to a slow start as the team remained tied with the Aggies at 6–6 through the first seven minutes of the game. Tech committed five turnovers during that opening span, but their stout defense held the Aggies to seven points off 13.3 percent field goal percentage in the first 10 minutes of the opening half.
North Carolina A&T stayed competitive in the first half due to an abundance of three-point shooting; the Aggies scored 12 of their 23 first half points from behind the arc.
Meanwhile, the Hokies were sloppy on offense in the first half committing eight turnovers, but they shot nearly 50 percent from the field. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kerry Blackshear Jr. provided the Hokies with a spark late in the first half, scoring eight points each and leading Tech to a 36–23 first half lead.
After what was surely an intense discussion between head coach Buzz Williams and his team at halftime, the Hokies put up 24 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half and created a 62–43 lead over the Aggies.
Although North Carolina A&T held its own during the second half, Tech overpowered the Aggies and cruised to a 82–60 victory.
Despite similar offensive stats by both teams, the Hokies dominated the boards and out-rebounded the Aggies 42 to 20. Blackshear Jr. led all players with nine rebounds.
Alexander-Walker put in another standout offensive performance, scoring 20 points off of eight for 14 shooting from the field. This game marks the sixth 20-point game of the season for the Toronto, Canada, native.
Fresh off of earning their diplomas at the end of the fall semester, Justin Robinson and Kerry Blackshear Jr. both finished in double figures. Robinson tallied 14 points and six assists while Blackshear Jr. scored 17 points and hauled in nine rebounds.
The Hokies started off slow in their return to Blacksburg, but a strong second half and a resilient defensive effort resulted in another non-conference victory. Looking forward, Tech will continue to rely on its elite scoring defense when the shots are not falling on offense.
Williams says that this defensive identity has stayed mostly the same since last season, “It has morphed a little bit, but the base principles are the exact same.”
Tech improves to 10–1 on the season and remains undefeated at home this season. The Hokies will have nine days off before returning to Cassell Coliseum on Dec. 28 to host their final non-conference game of the season against Maryland Eastern Shore.