Led by Keve Aluma’s career-high 26 points, the No. 24 Virginia Tech men’s basketball team knocked off Miami (Fla.) 80-78 in a nail-biter on Tuesday night at Carilion Clinic Court at Cassell Coliseum.
The Hokies (8-1, 2-0 ACC) improved to 18-24 against the Hurricanes (4-3, 0-2 ACC), 10-8 at home and continued a perfect 5-0 when ranked. Including his time at Wofford, Mike Young is 2-3 all-time versus Miami’s Head Coach Jim Larrañaga.
Tech’s offense was dominated by Aluma’s 26 points and four assists. Aluma hit 9 of 16 from the floor and a consistent 7 of 10 from behind the line. Justyn Mutts carried a season-high 15 points and nine rebounds, just short of his first double-double of the season. Tyrece Radford and Jalen Cone stayed consistent with 13 and 12 points apiece.
On defense, the Hokies forced 19 turnovers, the most against an ACC opponent in the Mike Young era, topping the previous high of 18 at Wake Forest on Jan. 14, 2020. The Hokies picked up a season-high 12 steals with seven players contributing. The Hurricanes outshot the Hokies 53.6% to 46.8%, however, Tech made the difference holding them to only 10 free-throw chances the entire game.
The Hokies and Hurricanes each got off to a slow start offensively due to strong defensive play from both sides. Tech caught fire when Cone and Radford had back-to-back fast break layups to start a 12-point run, giving Tech a 42-33 lead into halftime. Aluma carried the Hokies in the first half with 19 points, along with Mutts who contributed 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Hokies came out hot in the second half eventually taking their biggest lead of the game 58-41 at the 15:12 mark. The ‘Canes chipped away at the score until taking an eight-point run to cut the Hokies lead to five, later followed by a seven-point run, cutting the lead to two with less than 40 seconds left in the game. Two good free throws by Nahiem Alleyne put the Hokies ahead 79-75, but Miami answered with a 3 to cut the lead to one. Wabissa Bede hit a free throw with 26 seconds left and then strong defensive play sealed the victory, 80-78.