Virginia Tech injected a dose of intrigue into the ACC title race on Saturday. The No. 20 Hokies rode a dominant second half to a 65-51 victory over No. 8 Virginia. It was the first conference loss for the Cavaliers (11-3, 7-1 ACC), who would have opened up a two-game lead atop the league standings with a win after Florida State’s loss at Georgia Tech earlier in the day.
Instead, the Hokies pulled within a game of their in-state rival and are now tied with the Seminoles in second place thanks to a career-high 29 points from Keve Aluma. The 6-foot-9 forward sat out last season after choosing to follow coach Mike Young from Wofford to the ACC. He cemented his place as one of the league’s breakout stars with his dominant outing against the Cavaliers.
Aluma’s 10-of-15 shooting night and 10 rebounds came as the Hokies (13-3, 7-2) played without No. 2 scorer Tyrece Radford, who was suspended indefinitely earlier this week. A timeline for Radford’s return is unclear, but Virginia Tech is coping well without him so far after also beating Notre Dame earlier in the week. Impressive as Aluma’s offensive outburst was against a stingy UVA defense, the Hokies pulled away largely because of their defense.
Virginia went more than seven minutes late in the second half without a bucket after leading 39-29 at one point early in the half. Four UVA players reached double figures, led by Jay Huff with 13 points. But the Cavaliers scored just 12 points in the paint, compared to 24 for Virginia Tech, and shot just four free throws, compared to 14 for the Hokies.
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