BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech didn’t have the strongest start in ACC play, sitting at 2-7 at one point this season. Now the Hokies are sitting pretty, now back to .500 in conference play, with a 71-59 over Syracuse. Each team entered the contest on 4-game win streaks in what’s proved to be a topsy-turvy ACC season.
The Hokies led for all but five minutes in Saturday night’s win and absolutely dominated the paint (26 points) and took advantage of eleven Syracuse turnovers--turning them into 17 points.
“We are playing better and more connected, you know -- it’s February it’s mid-February. Gritty, tough, really are a lot of fun to watch,” Hokies coach Mike Young said.
The biggest playmaker of the night was Justyn Mutts. The fifth year grad student recorded just the second triple-double in Virginia Tech history-- 12points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. The Hokies other big man, Keve Aluma, led the team with 20 points and knocked down six free throws.
“We really just played against a zone(this week in practice), just getting comfortable with what’s going to be open, you know. Watching film and seeing what my options are gonna be, and my teammates were doing amazing job of just getting in spots and knocking down shots. Honestly, we’re playing with great shooters, it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen at some point,” Mutts explained.
Despite trailing by double-digits in the second half, Syracuse did put together a late 9-0 run that cut the Hokies lead down to 49-46. Then with just under seven minutes to play, Buddy Boeheim hit a mid-range jumper for the Orange to tie it up 54-54. But the Hokies countered with a 13-0 run on their way to a 71-59 victory.
Virginia Tech has now won an ACC season’s best five games in a row and will prep for in-state rival Virginia Monday night. The Cavaliers defeated Georgia Tech on Saturday, extending their win streak to four games.