The No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies opened up ACC play on New Year’s Day in Blacksburg in impressive fashion, defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 81-66 to improve to 12-1 on the season and 1-0 in league play.
The Hokies dominated for much of this game, but Notre Dame cut the lead to one point with 15 minutes remaining in the game. That’s when Ahmed Hill hit back-to-back three-point shots and the game was essentially over. Hill finished the game with 17 points and Tech’s ability to shoot from downtown was impressive yet again as the Hokies connected on 11 of 18 from beyond the arc, including an incredible eight of nine in the second half.
On the day, the Hokies shot 61 percent from the field.
While Hill hit some big shots, it was big man Kerry Blackshear Jr., who led the Hokies with 21 points and seven rebounds. With the Hokies being more of a perimeter team, getting a performance like this from their big man as ACC play begins is an encouraging sign.
Sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker had another strong performance, scoring 17 points while Ty Outlaw contributed 14 points, including shooting four of seven from beyond the arc.
While this Virginia Tech team is one of the better offensive teams in the nation, what’s not getting enough publicity is how good this defense has become. Notre Dame shot just 41 percent from the field and the Hokies have held all but one opponent under 70 points. That’s critical now that we have started ACC play.
The Hokies were so efficient on offense that senior point guard Justin Robinson didn’t have to do much. Robinson was still good, scoring seven points and dishing out eight assists. It speaks volumes that this team can get just seven points from Robinson and still beat a conference foe by 15 points.
Tech is back on the court this Saturday at Cassell Coliseum as Boston College comes to town.