There was a special feeling in the air in Blacksburg on Tuesday night. An unseasonably warm fall day in the New River Valley and Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach Mike Young sitting on the bench eating popcorn before the Hokies opened the 2021-22 college basketball season at Cassell Coliseum combined to make a perfect evening.
From the opening tip, Virginia Tech dominated the Maine Black Bears and finished the night with an 82-47 win to start the season 1-0.
Senior forward Justyn Mutts scored 15 points, pulled down seven rebounds and dished out six assists to lead the Hokies. Junior guard Nahiem Alleyne scored 13 points, had seven rebounds and four assists.
Young could tinker with his lineup and allow some of the younger players to see extended time thanks to a huge lead early. Two players Young has praised all offseason were forward David N’Guessan and guard Darius Maddox. The two sophomores did not disappoint on Tuesday.
N’Guessan did a little bit of everything, scoring 15 points and making all seven shots from the field. He looked explosive, and his jumper had improved from one year ago. If this is the version of N’Guessan Virginia Tech gets in 2021-22, the Hokies will be one of the 15 best teams in college basketball.
Fellow sophomore Maddox also looked good. He scored nine points. Young said this offseason; he expects big things from both second-year players.
The Hokies also received a strong performance from junior big man John Ojiako. Ojiako has slimmed down from last season, and he scored nine points and pulled down four rebounds. The Hokies need critical minutes from Ojiako this winter.
It was a quiet night for two players most believed would lead the Hokies in scoring this season: forward Keve Aluma and point guard Storm Murphy. Aluma scored eight points, while Murphy scored five.
It was nice to watch something fun again as a Virginia Tech sports fan.
The Hokies are back in action on Friday against Navy in Annapolis. Navy opened its season on Tuesday against Virginia and currently leads the Cavaliers by seven points at halftime.