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No. 20 Virginia Tech rallies for 'great win' over No. 8 UVa

No. 20 Virginia Tech rallies for 'great win' over No. 8 UVa

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BLACKSBURG — Chalk up another marquee win for the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team — this time, against Tech’s biggest rival.

The 20th-ranked Hokies rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to upset eighth-ranked Virginia 65-51 on Saturday night at Cassell Coliseum.

“It’s a big win for us,” said guard Hunter Cattoor, who scored 15 points off the bench.

The Hokies (13-3, 7-2 ACC), who went on an eye-popping 34-8 run in the second half, beat a ranked foe for the fourth time this season.

“It’s significant now, but let’s hit the brake,” Tech coach Mike Young said. “It’s late January. They’re not putting the crown on anybody’s head in January.

“Great win for us. We played a good ballgame against a really, really good Virginia team. But let’s hang on. We’ve got a lot more to look forward to, we hope.”

Cattoor said the Hokies “haven’t accomplished anything.”

Come again?

“It’s exciting getting wins like this, but that’s not the goal this season,” Cattoor said.

What is the goal?

“National championship,” Cattoor said.

The Hokies tied the 2017-18 Tech team for the most wins over ranked opponents in a season in school history.

“We try and play hard every game, no matter who it is, but you see that [ranking] number, it always excites everyone,” said center Keve Aluma, who had 29 points and 10 rebounds.

Tech beat a top-10 foe for the second time this season.

“These guys … don’t care who you are. They are going to fight,” Young said. “They’re going to guard you.

“I’m having the best time coaching this team. Not because we’re winning a lot. They’re just great people.”

It was a surprising win, considering UVa (11-3, 7-1) entered Saturday on a seven-game winning streak. And Tech was again without suspended starter Tyrece Radford.

“No one really felt we were going to win this game,” Aluma said. “I like it when it’s like that. I like when people don’t think we’re going to win.”

Tech snapped a four-game losing streak in the series, beating the Cavaliers for the first time since an overtime win in Charlottesville in February 2018.

This was Tech’s most lopsided win in the series since an 84-57 victory over UVa in February 2007.

“There is a connectedness to this team,” Young said. “There is a camaraderie. They’re like little ducklings that are together all the time.”

The Hokies were picked 11th in the ACC’s preseason media poll. But they are off to their best ACC start through nine games, with their 7-2 league mark eclipsing their 6-3 ACC start in the 2006-07 season.

Tech has already matched the number of ACC wins it recorded all of last season.

The Hokies are 2-0 since Radford was indefinitely suspended from the team Monday in the wake of his arrest by Blacksburg police a day earlier.

“Coach had told us, ‘Next man up,’” Aluma said. “Everyone on this team can play.”

“It’s a great team,” Cattoor said. “When people go down, people are going to step up.”

Radford was the team’s second-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder at the time of his suspension.

“I care for him,” Young said. “We’re moving in a good direction there.

“For this team to come back after a tough occurrence, to go to Notre Dame and win and to beat Virginia in here tonight, is a real feather in their cap.”

Aluma was 10 of 15 from the field Saturday after having gone 7 of 26 from the field the previous three games combined (with all three games having been on the road).

“Just trying to get my touch back,” Aluma said. “I’d been missing little bunnies. Just trying to finish those. … I was trying to be aggressive.”

“There’s something [to] getting back home,” Young said. “He had a nice pop to his step.”

Down 39-29 with 15:28 to go, Tech went on a 34-8 run to grab a 63-47 lead with 2:50 left.

“The ball was moving a little bit better. I thought we screened a little bit better,” Young said of the run. “We did a nice job on the glass.”

Virginia Tech had five 3-pointers in the run.

Cattoor had 13 points in the run, and Aluma had 11 points.

Tech outscored UVa 19-0 to close out the run, turning a 47-44 deficit into the 63-47 lead.

“Just a bit more toughness and resolve [on defense] throughout the shot clock,” Young said of the 19-0 run.

The Hokies shot a sizzling 60.9% from the field in the second half. They were 7 of 10 from 3-point range in the second half.

UVa shot 29.6% from the field in the second half, including 23.1% (3 of 13) from 3-point territory.

Virginia entered Saturday having scored at least 80 points in three of its previous four games. But the Hokies held UVa to its lowest output of the season.

“I’ve got a really good defensive team,” Young said. “This team of mine, they’ll fight you tooth and nail night in, night out.

“That performance defensively was, needless to say, exceptional. But it’s not a surprise.”

The 51 points were the fewest UVa has scored in the series since a 50-47 win over the Hokies in January 2015.

The Cavaliers led 29-21 at halftime but were outscored 44-22 in the second half.

“UVa, they have a great defense. … But also we knew we have a great defense, too,” Cattoor said. “In the second half, we really just locked down, tried to get stops.

“We really locked in this week, watching film and knowing personnel. … We knew their key players and what they liked to do.”

UVa’s Tony Bennett became the sixth NCAA-championship-winning coach to lose to Young during Young’s two seasons at Tech, joining a list that includes Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams, Jay Wright and Mike Krzyzewski.

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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