Virginia Tech dominates North Carolina, advances to ACC Tournament title game
For the first time in school history, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team is going to play in the ACC Tournament title game.
The seventh-seeded Hokies, behind a stellar second half, comfortably beat third-seeded North Carolina on Friday night at the Barclay’s Center in the semifinals, 72-59. Tech will face top seed Duke on Saturday night in the championship game at 8:30 p.m.
The Hokies started the game off strong and never looked back, getting a career high from sharp-shooter Darius Maddox, who scored 20 points. Maddox hit the game-winner against Clemson in the quarterfinals with a three at the buzzer.
Tech led by six points at the break and expanded it to as many as 20 in the second half at two different stages.
With it being a six-point lead for Tech at the break, the Hokies opened up the second half with a 9-0 run with Hunter Cattoor and Justyn Mutts hitting from deep. Tech led 41-26 with 18:05 to go and were up 20 just over five minutes later. Tech would rebuild its lead to 20 points later on. UNC would not get the game to single digits for the entirety of the second half.
Maddox shot 7-for-12 from the field on the night. Keve Aluma had 18 points, Mutts had nine, but only one starter scored in double figures in Aluma. But the production was there off the bench with Maddox’s 20 and Sean Pedulla’s eight.
The Hokies shot 43.9 percent from the field but 45 percent from long range, going 9-for-20. The Tar Heels shot just 36.7 percent and were just 3-for-26 from deep. Four starters scored in double figures for UNC yet they were hardly in the game late on. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Heels. UNC beat Tech twice in the regular season, but the third time was the charm for Mike Young’s inspired crew.
It’s unclear what exactly the win means for Tech’s NCAA Tournament resume, though they are in much better position for an at-large bid now with those three added wins. A win in the title game would result in the Hokies not having to sweat out Selection Sunday, as winning the tournament comes with an automatic bid to the big dance.
Story by Roger Gonzalez