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No. 10 Hokies rally past Eagles for eighth straight win

Associated Press • Jan 5, 2019 at 7:04 PM

BLACKSBURG — For only the second time this season, the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team found itself in an unfamiliar situation: trailing an opponent at halftime.

And for the second time this season, the veteran-laden Hokies refused to panic.

Behind a game-high 25 points from Nickeil Alexander-Walker, No. 10 Virginia Tech rallied in the second half to register a 77-66 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over Boston College on Saturday.

Alexander-Walker made 9 of 14 shots from the floor for the Hokies (13-1, 2-0), who won their eighth straight game and are off to their best start since the 1982-83 team opened the season with a 14-1 record.

“Another win is great,” Alexander-Walker said. “We’ll take any wins we can get. We’re thankful, we’re grateful, but we’re not going to be complacent. Tomorrow, we’ll let this go and try to get better.”

The Hokies overcame a cold-shooting first half in which they made just 10 baskets and trailed 32-30 at halftime. But Virginia Tech shot 55.6 percent in the second half (15 of 27) and outscored Boston College by 13 to beat the Eagles for the fifth straight time.

“Nah,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said when asked if he made any halftime adjustments. “We do the same thing offensively every game. It just looks better when we made it. Like I said against Notre Dame (after the Hokies shot poorly in the first half against the Irish on Tuesday), we’re running the same plays. It just looks pretty when you make it.”

Boston College (9-4, 0-1) led early in the second half, but Virginia Tech took control with an 11-0 run. Alexander-Walker scored six of those points, the Hokies took a 43-36 lead and they never trailed again.

Virginia Tech led by as many as 16 in the second half on two occasions, with the final time coming following a layup by Kerry Blackshear Jr. with 5:32 remaining. The Eagles cut the lead to eight twice in the final three minutes but got no closer.

Despite leading the nation in 3-point field-goal accuracy coming into the game (45.3 percent), Virginia Tech hit just 6 of 22 attempts (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc. The Hokies’ six 3-pointers were their fewest in a game this season, but they maintained that lead because of their proficiency from the free-throw line. The Hokies made nine of their final 11 attempts in the final 9:16 and 21 of 25 for the game.

“We fouled,” Boston College coach Jim Christian said. “I thought, in the second half, we played hard. We played hard the whole game. We started fouling a little bit, got out of position, and we didn’t score. That hurts a little bit, too.”

Blackshear added 20 points for Virginia Tech, hitting 6 of 7 shots from the floor and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. Justin Robinson scored 12 and had five assists.

Jordan Chatman had 18 points for the Eagles, who shot just 39.6 percent (19 of 48).

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: Alexander-Walker has scored in double figures in all 13 games in which he has played this season and scored at least 20 points in seven games. He is fifth in the ACC in scoring (18.8).

Boston College: The Eagles will need improved play from star guard Ky Bowman to compete in the ACC. Bowman, who scored 44 points in the Eagles’ loss to Hartford on Monday, entered the game averaging 20.9 points per game, but scored just 14 against the Hokies. He did not hit a field goal in the final 18:31 and scored just two points on free throws.

NOLLEY, CLARKE WON’T SUIT UP

Williams confirmed Saturday that talented freshman Landers Nolley and senior Chris Clarke won’t this season. Nolley, who averaged 31 points per game as a senior at Langston Hughes High in suburban Atlanta last year and was arguably the Hokies’ top recruit, has been dealing with the NCAA on an eligibility issue. Clarke is suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons.

DEALING WITH INJURIES

Boston College played without talented freshman Wynston Tabbs (14.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who suffered an injury in the loss to Hartford on Monday, and Steffon Mitchell only played 16 minutes against Virginia Tech because of an injury. As a result, Christian was forced to roll the dice against the Hokies and play several players with three fouls with more than 15 minutes left in the game.

“That’s who we are,” Christian said. “We’re hurt. Staff (Steffon Mitchell) couldn’t really go back in. His leg was tightening up, and Wynston didn’t play. We’ve got a lot of guys playing different positions, so it’s hard on the fly like that . It shrinks what you can do, and that probably helped them guard us.”

INCHING UP THE CHART

Robinson’s five assists give him 526 assists for his career at Virginia Tech. He needs just 17 more to move into second place on the Hokies’ all-time list and 21 more to move into the top spot.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies travel to Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

Boston College: The Eagles play host to No. 4 Virginia on Wednesday.

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