Virginia Tech had to go to overtime to avoid a losing streak.
Justyn Mutts scored 22 points and Keve Aluma added 16 as the No. 16 Hokies defeated Miami 80-76 Saturday.
Nahiem Alleyne hit a go-ahead jumper with 25 seconds remaining in the extra period and Hunter Cattoor’s two free throws with four seconds left as the Hokies (14-4, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) needed a late 3-pointer to avoid consecutive losses.
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“Good teams don’t lose two games in a row,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. “Good teams find ways to hang in there and continue to keep your shoulders back and hit the practice floor to improve. You’ve heard me say it many times. I’ve got great dudes.”
Cattoor finished with 14 points and forced the overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 74-all. The basket erased Isaiah Wong’s go-ahead 3-pointer seconds earlier for Miami.
There was question as to whether Cattoor stepped out of bounds before his game-tying conversion.
“I don’t know if that’s true or not; I know there were several very close calls at the end,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “It’s a strange ending to a game if in fact the guy who made the game tying shot was out of bounds. I’ll be very disappointed if I find out that was a violation.”
Young had not heard anything about Cattoor stepping out of bounds.
"I don’t really care. The kid made a great shot. We got it to overtime,” Young said.
Wong and Elija Olaniyi scored 19 points each for the Hurricanes (7-11, 3-10). Kameron McGusty added 18 points.
“With Hunter we’ve seen him hit that shot so many times,” Mutts said of Cattoor’s 3-pointer. “For him to make it at that big of a time in the game it’s really not a surprise to anybody. But my mindset at that point was now let’s go win the game.”
Miami erased a double-digit deficit with a 20-7 spurt late in the second half. Wong hit two 3-pointers to key the surge and Nysier Brooks’ dunk with 3:34 to go gave the Hurricanes a 68-66 lead.
The Hokies opened their first double-digit lead with a 12-2 run midway through the second half. Mutts’ layup with 8:03 remaining capped the surge and gave Virginia Tech a 59-48 lead.
Mutts’ two free throws gave Virginia Tech a 31-28 lead at halftime.
MUTTS CONTINUES WITH SOLID EFFORTS:
Mutts shot 9-of-14 from the field and finished with a career high seven assists. The performance followed his 17-point outing on 7-of-12 shooting in the loss at Pitt Wednesday.
“Coaches and my teammates told me to be a lot more aggressive,” Mutts said. “I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to get the wins. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.”
FRESHMAN BAMISILE STEPS IN FOR CONE:
Hokies starting forward Jalen Cone left with an undisclosed lower leg injury early in the game and didn’t return. Freshman Joseph Bamisile picked up most of the playing time following Cone’s injury and finished with 11 points and three assists.
“You never know when you’re opportunity is going to come,” Young said. “You can’t get ready when the opportunity presents itself. You get ready with preparation leading for days like today.”
ANOTHER HEARTBREAKER AGAINST VIRGINIA TECH:
The close loss followed Miami's 80-78 setback at Blacksburg Dec. 29. The Hurricanes also trailed by double figures before a late comeback.
“I’m glad with the way we played and fought,” McGusty said. “I’m proud of our fight. We just came up short. Of course we’re upset but you cant drop your head.”
Virginia Tech: Guard Tyrece Radford missed his fourth consecutive game and his return remains uncertain. Radford, who averages a Hokies’ second-best 11.1 points, has been suspended since his arrest for driving under the influence Jan. 24.
Miami: Senior guard Chris Lykes, the team’s leading scorer last season, resumed practice Thursday after a lengthy absence but didn’t play. Sidelined for two months because of a left ankle injury, Lykes also topped the Hurricanes in assists, steals, field goals and free throws made as a junior.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies will have a week off before their home game against Louisville next Saturday. The gap occurred after a home date with No. 20 Florida State on Tuesday was postponed because of a recent COVID-19 outbreak involving the Seminoles.
Miami: the Hurricanes begin a two-game road set Monday at North Carolina. The Tar Heels defeated Miami 67-65 in Coral Gables Jan. 5.
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