#24 Virginia Tech pulls away, defeats Longwood, 84-58
Riding 18 points from sophomore guard Jalen Cone and 14 points from 6’8”, 235-pound forward Keve Aluma, Tech (7-1) controlled the interior to the tune of 40 points in the paint and 21 points off second-chance opportunities.
That production came throughout the lineup, as the Hokies got more points from their bench (45) than the starting lineup (39) en route to their third 80-point game of the season.
The game did provide Longwood two early holiday gifts in the form of veteran guards Heru Bligen and DeShaun Wade, who both suited up in the same game for the first time all season.
Sidelined by injuries through the first six games of the season, both Bligen and Wade played 20-plus minutes apiece Monday and provided welcome reinforcements for Lancer point guards Justin Hill and Juan Munoz, who entered the game both averaging more than 30 minutes per game.
Even their return was not enough for Longwood to keep pace with the surging Hokies for a full 40 minutes on a home court where they are 35-1 against non-conference foes since 2015.
Longwood was able to whittle a double-digit deficit lead to just four points by halftime, and later closed the gap from 13 points to five midway through the second half, but Virginia Tech used three separate runs of at least nine consecutive points to pull away each time.
The last of those runs was a 13-0 tear that featured three made three-pointers, six points from Cone, and four straight defensive stops.
By the time Longwood junior Zac Watson broke it up with a layup with 5:35 to play, Virginia Tech’s lead had ballooned to 27 points.
Watson finished with eight points, sinking 4-of-6 field goals, including a pair of dunks. Fellow forward Leslie Nkereuwem added a team-high 10 points for his second straight double-digit scoring effort, while Bligen and freshman Jesper Granlund matched Watson with eight.
Wade finished with seven in only his second game of the season.