The Virginia Tech Hokies improved to 12-4 on the season and 3-2 in the ACC with a surprisingly easy 72-58 win over the N.C. State Wolfpack (11-5, 2-3) on Saturday.
It didn’t begin easy for the Hokies, though. N.C. State jumped out to a 10-0 lead early, connecting of four of its first seven field-goal attempts. Tech called a timeout and the Hokies came out with an impressive 13-0 run. Once they got the lead, the Hokies would never trail again.
It was another banner day for redshirt freshman Landers Nolley. Nolley scored 29 points and pulled down seven rebounds. He was eight of 19 from the floor, including four of seven from beyond the arc, and connected on nine of his 10 attempts from the free-throw line.
Another freshman, guard Tyrece Radford, chipped in with a career-high 18 points. Since his impressive performance against Duke in early December, Radford’s minutes have increased. It is the fifth time this season he has scored in double digits, including twice in the last four games.
The most impressive thing about the 6’2” guard is his ability on the boards. Radford again led the Hokies in rebounds with nine. It is his second consecutive game with nine rebounds, and in six of the last eight Virginia Tech games he has pulled down at least seven rebounds and finished two games with 10 boards. Radford’s ascent is coming at the perfect time for the Hokies.
Yet another freshman, four-star guard Jalen Cone, scored 10 points for the Hokies. Cone was terrific against Syracuse early in the week and it is his second straight game scoring in double figures. Remember, Cone was supposed to be a senior in high school this season. He is going to be a terrific player and is a nice complement to Wabissa Bede.
Speaking of Bede, don’t let the stat sheet fool you. He was terrific on Saturday. While scoring just two points, Bede did dish out seven assists against only two turnovers. More importantly, Bede played suffocating defense on Wolfpack guard Markell Johnson. Johnson played 39 minutes, was just two of 14 from the floor and finished with five points. He also had five turnovers. Johnson entered the game averaging 14 points per game.
The Wolfpack had fans in Cassell Coliseum concerned late in the second half, cutting Tech’s lead to 55-52. Again, Tech answered, going on an 11-0 run pushing its lead to 66-52 and that was the ballgame.
This was an impressive win for the Hokies. Remember, this is the same team the media had picked 14th in the preseason polls. This is team is not finishing 14th. Not only that, head coach Mike Young has this team playing better each week and several of the freshmen are peaking at the perfect time.
The Hokies take a quick trip down I-77 to Winston-Salem on Monday night for a meeting with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.