Hokies knock Heels out to reach ACC championship
Published 12:09 am Saturday, March 12, 2022
By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Darius Maddox, Keve Aluma and Virginia Tech dominated No. 25 North Carolina 72-59 on Friday night to advance to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game for the first time — and prevent another matchup between the Tar Heels and rival Duke.
The seventh-seeded Hokies (22-12) will face the top-seeded Blue Devils on Saturday night at Barclays Center, trying to deny retiring coach Mike Krzyzewski his 16th ACC championship in his final conference tournament.
Maddox scored 20 points and was 4 for 5 from 3-point range and Aluma had 18 points for the Hokies, who will try to become the second team to win the ACC Tournament with four victories in four days.
Virginia Tech is a relative newcomer to the conference, having joined in 2004. The Hokies have won four football championships since joining, but have been unable to break through the Blue Bloods in basketball.
Third-year coach Mike Young’s team has been rolling since losing five games in January. The Hokies have won 12 of 14 to put themselves in position to win an ACC championship and maybe earn an NCAA at-large bid no matter what happens against Duke.
On Friday night in Brooklyn, Virginia Tech snapped a four-game losing streak to North Carolina with ease.
The Hokies opened the second half with a 9-0 run on a three-point play by Aluma and back-to-back 3s by Hunter Cattoor and Justyn Mutts that upped the lead to 41-26.
The Tar Heels, looking to return to the ACC title game for the first time since 2018 and set up a rubber match with Tobacco Road rival Duke for the championship, never mounted a real threat.
Maddox, who made a 3 at the buzzer to stave off elimination against Clemson on Wednesday night, dropped an open 3 and held the follow-through to give the Hokies a 20-point lead with 12:47 left against North Carolina.
Armando Bacot had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Tar Heels.
Virginia Tech: Hokies fans were clearly outnumbered by Duke and North Carolina supporters at Barclays Center on Friday night, but as the arena emptied in the final minutes they took over the place.
They gave Young a huge cheer as he left the court and he pumped his fist to the band as he headed to the tunnel.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels’ inconsistent season continued. First-season coach Hubert Davis had stressed to his team that good performances needed to be validated the next time out with similar effort.
North Carolina seemed to be hitting its stride, following up a victory against Duke to end the regular-season with an efficient effort against Virginia on Thursday night.
Against the Hokies, aside from Bacot, it was another dud from the Heels.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies lost to Duke to open the ACC season in December.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels will await an NCAA Tournament at-large bid.
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