Preview: Virginia Tech at Virginia
Virginia hasn’t broken much of a sweat while beginning ACC play with three straight wins for the second straight season, using its trademark recipe of precision offense and suffocating defense. The top-ranked Cavaliers figure to get tested in a big way this week, however, as they begin a challenging two-game stretch Tuesday when they host No. 7 Virginia Tech in the 148th edition of the Commonwealth Clash.
The Division I leader in fewest turnovers per game (8.9) and scoring defense (51.2 points), Virginia is coming off decisive road victories over Boston College (83-56) and Clemson (63-43) and have yet to play a game closer than 13 points during league action. The Cavaliers return home in hopes of avenging their only regular-season conference loss from a season ago – a 61-60 overtime defeat to the Hokies on Feb. 10 – before traveling to No. 2 Duke this weekend. Virginia Tech matched its best start to a season since 1982-83 with Wednesday’s 52-49 road victory over Georgia Tech, as the nation’s second-best 3-point shooting team entering the contest survived an 18.5-percent effort beyond the arc to earn its ninth straight win. “As demented as it sounds, I think what transpired tonight was very good for us. We were in a similar position 43 days ago (in a 63-62 loss) at Penn State and didn’t handle it as well. I thought our guys hung in there even though it wasn’t as pretty as we want it to be offensively,” coach Buzz Williams told reporters.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Raycom Sports
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (14-1, 3-0 ACC): The Hokies are one of only six Division I teams with four players averaging 12 points, including leading scorer Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.2 steals), who was named to the midseason Top 25 watch list for the Wooden Award prior to Wednesday’s game. Kerry Blackshear Jr. (14.1 points, 6.2 boards) posted his second double-double of the season and is averaging 18.3 points and eight rebounds during conference play. Justin Robinson (13.1 points) ranks second in the ACC in assists (5.8) and needs only 18 more to tie Bimbo Coles (547) for the most in school history, while Ahmed Hill (12.7 points) is one of five Hokies shooting at least 42 percent from 3-point range.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (15-0, 3-0): Kyle Guy (team-high 15.3 points) struggled offensively against Clemson (5-for-15 from the field, including 3-for-9 beyond the arc) but it didn’t keep his coach from paying his 46-percent 3-point shooter a nice compliment. “Dell Curry was one of the best I saw when I played with him (in the NBA). Sometimes he wasn’t even square, but he could just get that shoulder or that wrist pointed at the rim. Didn’t really matter what else was there. … I think Kyle has that ability,” coach Tony Bennett told the Daily Press. Jay Huff – a 7-1 sophomore who averages 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds – made his impact felt for the second time in four games Saturday, finishing with 11 points, seven rebounds and a block in only 10 minutes of action.
1. Tuesday will mark the first time that both teams enter the Commonwealth Clash ranked inside the top 10.
2. Virginia has held seven opponents below 50 points, while Virginia Tech has done so five times.
3. The Hokies’ win in Charlottesville last season is the Cavaliers’ only home loss in the last 26 games.