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Virginia Tech basketball: Hokies drop heartbreaker to No. 25 Xavier

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It’s the second consecutive close loss to a ranked opponent for the Hokies.

NCAA Basketball: Maine at Virginia Tech Ryan Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies dropped a heartbreak to the No. 6 Xavier Musketeers, 59-58, on Friday in the Upsie Nit Season Tip-Off.

Xavier controlled the first half of the game and went into halftime with a 35-27 lead. The Musketeers shot 56% from the field in the first, including six of 12 from beyond the arc. Xavier entered Friday’s game shooting only 27% from the 3-point line.

The Hokies clawed back into the game in the second half and took the lead with just over five minutes remaining when junior guard Nahiem Alleyne drilled a 3-pointer to give the Hokies the lead. It was reminiscent of Wednesday’s game against Memphis when Alleyne hit a 3-pointer with 4:36 remaining in the game after the Tigers had controlled the game. Unfortunately, on Wednesday, Tech went ice cold from that point forward.

However, this game was poised to end differently for the Hokies when Keve Aluma scored with under one minute remaining. He was also fouled on the play but missed the free throw.

Xavier went back on offense, and guard Nate Johnson hit a 3-point shot to give the Musketeers a 59-58 lead with around six seconds remaining. The Hokies would get one more attempt to win and fall short and drop to 5-2 on the season.

Tech had no answer for Johnson, who scored 30 of Xavier’s 59 points, including seven of 11 from beyond the arc.

Alleyne led the Hokies in scoring again with 18 points. Hunter Cattoor scored 13 for the Hokies, and Aluma finished with 12 points. Justyn Mutts scored five points, had 12 rebounds and three assists.

It was another subpar effort from starting point guard Storm Murphy. Murphy did not score in 18 minutes of play, had no assists and one turnover. That’s not what Tech was looking for or expecting from Murphy. Against two ranked foes this week, he scored a total of five points and finished with seven turnovers. It’s a concern that Murphy has struggled against better teams with more athletic guards, something to watch when full-blown ACC play begins.

Next up for the Hokies is Maryland in College Park. That will be another tough battle for Mike Young’s squad and a game the Hokies need for their resume.