It wasn’t easy, but the No. 19 Virginia Tech Hokies bounced back on Sunday night with a 77-63 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Blacksburg.
The Hokies, coming off their first conference loss — a two-point heartbreaker at Louisville — struggled in the first half, going into intermission down 42-35.
Fortunately for Mike Young’s squad, the Hokies played their best defensive half of the season and outscored the Fighting Irish 42-21 in the final 20 minutes.
Notre Dame shot 37.5 percent from the floor for the game. However, the Irish couldn’t buy a bucket from the field in the second half and made their living on the free-throw line. Notre Dame went to the charity stripe 26 times, connecting on 21 of those attempts.
The Fighting Irish were actually ahead 50-49 with around 12 minutes remaining when Virginia Tech forward Keve Aluma started a run that would put the Hokies ahead, and they never looked back.
Aluma scored 15 points and led the Hokies with 12 rebounds.
It was sophomore guard Jalen Cone who was the star of the show for the Hokies once again. Cone led the team with 18 points and was four of 10 from beyond the arc.
ACC Wins: They’re Magically Delicious pic.twitter.com/0B83uWOAMe— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) January 11, 2021
Forward Justyn Mutts had the most consistent performance of his Virginia Tech career on Sunday, scoring 14 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Mutts was a presence in the paint, and he was also strong on the defensive end of the floor.
Hunter Cattoor scored 15 points for the Hokies, while Tyrece Radford scored nine points and finished with eight rebounds.
Virginia Tech outrebounded Notre Dame, 41-24.
Forward Nate Laszewski led the Fighting Irish with 17 points.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Hokies (9-2, 3-1) who host Duke on Tuesday in Blacksburg.