Virginia Tech coach Mike Young called his team’s week off between a blowout loss to Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Tuesday night’s victory over Clemson “sharpening the saw.”
The Hokies will try to keep their teeth sharp on Saturday when they host Coppin State in a non-conference matchup.
The 66-60 win over No. 24 Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener couldn’t have been better timed for Virginia Tech (5-1). It led nearly wire-to-wire, although it had to fight hard to hang on to a 16-point second-half lead.
“They are a legitimate Top 25 team,” Young said of Clemson. “It was a good win for our team. We really fought and rebounded. I am proud of my team; we took some legitimate steps forward.”
Virginia Tech’s recent shooting woes continued, as it made only 40.9 percent from the field. But it earned its second Top 25 win in six games with defense, rebounding and foul shooting. It held the Tigers to 38 percent from the field, carved out a 33-25 advantage on the glass and sank 25 of 31 free throws.
Tyrece Radford led four Hokies in double figures with 15 points, while leading scorer Keve Aluma added 13, going 9 of 12 at the foul line. Aluma is averaging 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds, canning 55.2 percent of his shots.
Virginia Tech did suffer a personnel loss before the Clemson game. Guard Cartier Diarra, a Kansas State transfer averaging 7.5 ppg off the bench, opted out for the time being because of COVID-19 concerns.
As for Coppin State, it’s off to a 1-5 start, although it went toe-to-toe with Duke for most of an 81-71 loss to start the season. Its win came against UNC Greensboro, a Southern Conference power in recent years.
The Eagles haven’t played since Sunday, when they went cold in the second half and fell 66-49 at home to Maryland-Baltimore County. They made just 8 of 31 shots after halftime, including a miserable 5 of 19 on 3-pointers.
Anthony Tarke hit just 2 of 13 against the Retrievers, but has been Coppin State’s top player by far. The UTEP transfer is averaging 17.3 points and canning 45.8 percent from the field, which is really notable on a team that isn’t even making 35 percent from the floor.
This will be the fourth meeting of the teams. The Hokies have won the first three, including a 74-42 decision last November in Blacksburg.
–Field Level Media