Hokies’ hot start propels Tech to ACC Tournament-opening victory vs. Miami

Zach Johnson of the Miami drives to the basket against Kerry Blackshear Jr. of Virginia Tech. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, NC (HokieSports.com)– Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Virginia Tech past Miami 71-56 in a second-round game at the ACC Tournament played Wednesday afternoon at Spectrum Center.

With the win, the Hokies moved to 24-7 overall – just one victory short of the school record for wins in a season. Miami saw its season end at 14-18.

The Hokies never trailed in this one, scoring the game's first 11 points, with Ty Outlaw scoring nine of those on three 3-pointers. Tech went on to score on seven of its first nine possessions, jumping out to a 16-3 lead and never looking back.

Tech continued its 3-point barrage throughout the first half and pushed its lead to as many as 20. The Hokies buried seven 3-pointers – four by Outlaw – en route to a 38-21 halftime lead. They were just as good on defense, too, holding Miami to just 33.3 percent shooting from the floor. Miami failed to score on back-to-back possessions in the first half.

Ahmed Hill #13 of Virginia Tech Hokies reacts. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

In the second half, Miami cut the lead to 42-35 on a follow-up dunk by Ebuka Izundu with 14:54 remaining and had a chance to cut into it more. The 'Canes stopped the Hokies on Tech's next possession, but Miami missed two 3-pointers, and Isaiah Wilkins scored on a layup with 13:53 to go to push Tech's lead to 44-35. That started a 7-0 run that ended with a Kerry Blackshear 3-pointer, which gave the Hokies a 49-34 lead. Miami got no closer than 11 the rest of the way.

Blackshear hit 8 of 12 from the floor, pacing the Hokies, who shot 50 percent. Outlaw finished with 14 points, hitting four of the Hokies' 11 3-pointers.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 12 points and six assists for Tech, while Wilkins finished with 10 points.

Miami, which shot just 33.9 percent, was led by Chris Lykes, who scored 19 points.

QUOTES TO NOTE
Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams
(On playing Florida State in a rematch after playing Miami in a rematch in back-to-back weeks)
"It's strange, right? We're living last week in reverse this week. It's never happened. I agree with what Ty [Outlaw] said. I think we were better today than we were on Friday [against Miami]. Obviously, a neutral site, new place. But it's never happened, so it's hard for me to have the evidence on what to say. But obviously we didn't do very well in the second half at Florida State – so thankful that we have another chance."

Virginia Tech forward Ty Outlaw
(On his hot start – hitting the three 3-pointers early)
"It was really just my teammates getting to the paint and being aware that I'm ready to shoot whenever they kick it out. So we were just getting into the paint with the plays we were calling, and I was just ready for it."

Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear Jr.
(On scoring two baskets after Miami had cut the lead to seven)
"I really didn't even know that I scored that much in a row. Just in the flow of the game, we just found good looks. I thought that the intensity on defense led to that run that they made, so I think we picked it up there, and then we were able to score in transition at the rim, and finding each other on open shots. I think it started with defense on that run."

GAME NOTES
• Tech has allowed just four opponents to shoot better than 50 percent this season.

• The Hokies won the rebounding battle, out-rebounding the 'Canes 36-30. Tech is now 17-2 when it out-rebounds its opponent.

• Tech moved to 15-2 in games in which it has hit at least 10 3-pointers this season.

• Outlaw has hit at least three 3-pointers in 15 games this season. The Hokies are 11-3 in those games.

• Wilkins scored in double figures for the fourth time this season.

• Blackshear's double-double marked his eighth of the season and 12th of his career.

• Alexander-Walker has handed out at least five assists in a game nine times this season.

UP NEXT
The Hokies advanced to the quarterfinals, where they will take on Florida State, the tournament's No. 4 seed, Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. The Hokies lost in the only regular-season matchup between the two teams, falling 74-63 in overtime on March 5 in Tallahassee, Florida.

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