Texas beats Hokies 81-73 for 1st NCAA tourney win since 2014

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — Texas’ Marcus Carr says he doesn’t leave the gym on most practice days until he makes at least one halfcourt shot.

“Sometimes it takes me one rep,” Carr said. “Sometimes it takes me 11. However many it takes.”

Practice made perfect for Carr on Friday.

Carr beat the halftime buzzer by banking in a shot from roughly 60 feet away to put Texas ahead for good in an 81-73 victory over Virginia Tech that gave the Longhorns their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2014.

The sixth-seeded Longhorns (22-11) advance to a second-round East Region game Sunday against No. 3 seed Purdue (28-7). The Boilermakers trounced Yale 78-56 on Friday.

“Just so happy for our guys that never won a game in a tournament, never been in the tournament,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “This whole deal’s about our players. I think after the season it will be a chance to reflect, but we’re in this tournament to win six games.”

After Virginia Tech’s Storm Murphy made two free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the first half to give the Hokies a 32-31 lead, Carr got about one-third of the way up the court before firing away.

Carr had taken just a couple of steps beyond the 3-point arc on the opposite end of the floor and hadn’t even reached the “S” on the “March Madness” logo when he launched his shot.

“Anybody who knows me knows I shoot that shot a lot,” said Carr, who had 15 points, nine assists and only one turnover. “It wasn’t really a surprise when it went in.”

Carr’s coach vouched for him.

“He was able to get two dribbles and get a pretty high-percentage shot,” Beard said. “It’s not a 50% shot, but for Marcus that might be a 20% shot. He can make one out of five from that area.”

Texas built on the momentum and led by 17 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Virginia Tech’s Hunter Cattoor sank a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to cut Texas’ lead to 76-69, but the Hokies couldn’t get any closer.

Andrew Jones scored 21 points to lead five Texas players in double figures as the Longhorns shot 10 of 19 from 3-point range. Timmy Allen had 14, Christian Bishop 11 and Courtney Ramey 10 to go along with Carr’s 15.

The Longhorns ended a five-game NCAA Tournament losing streak. They were seeking to improve those postseason fortunes last year when they hired Beard, a former Texas student manager who led Texas Tech to the national championship game in 2019.

Beard improved to 5-0 in NCAA Tournament first-round games.

“We basically set it up for our guys as we’ve got to go beat one of the best teams in the country in the first round,” Beard said. “So this will be a confidence builder as the tournament goes on because I do think we just beat one of the best teams in the tournament. We’ll have to go through several teams like this.”

Virginia Tech’s Sean Padulla scored 19 points, with 13 coming in the last 4 1/2 minutes. Keve Aluma had 15 and Cattoor added 12 as Virginia Tech lost for just the third time in 16 games.

The 11th-seeded Hokies (23-13) had played their way into the NCAA field by winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title last week.

“At the end of the day when you look at the big picture, when you look back, we’re the first team at Virginia Tech to ever be ACC champs, so no one will ever be able to take that away from us,” Cattoor said. “The relationships we build with each other and the coaching staff, it’s more about life, it’s not all about basketball. The relationships we take away from this, growing as humans, I’ll be forever grateful for it.”

KEY STAT

Heading into this game, Virginia Tech was ranked third in 3-point percentage (.393), while Texas was ranked 250th (.323). Yet the Longhorns outscored the Hokies 30-12 from beyond the arc as Virginia Tech went 4 of 12 on 3-point attempts.

BIG PICTURE

Texas: Beard overhauled his roster by bringing in plenty of transfers, and those newcomers made an impact Friday. Carr played at Minnesota last season. Allen played at Utah. Creighton transfer Bishop scored 11 points. But it was a holdover from former coach Shaka Smart’s tenure who led the team in scoring. Jones shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range and had 17 points by halftime.

Virginia Tech: This marks the second straight first-round NCAA Tournament loss for the Hokies, who fell to Florida in overtime last season. … In the second half, the Hokies had nine turnovers and allowed Texas to shoot 64% from the floor.

UP NEXT

Texas will be trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since a 2008 regional final appearance when it faces Purdue on Sunday.

7th-seed Virginia Tech upsets Duke, Coach K for ACC title

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NEW YORK – For the second straight Saturday night, Duke failed to deliver Coach K a send-off victory.

This time it was Virginia Tech playing party pooper.

Hunter Cattoor scored a career-high 31 points and the seventh-seeded Hokies won the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament for the first time, beating Duke 82-67 to deny Mike Krzyzewski a league title in his final season.

Virginia Tech (23-12) came to Brooklyn in need of a run to make the NCAA Tournament, and then were staring at elimination on Wednesday when Darius Maddox hit a go-ahead 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Clemson in overtime.

Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said the Hokies were “luckier than hell” after that game.

After beating Duke how did it feel?

“Gratifying,” Young said.

The Hokies became just the second ACC team to take the crown with four wins in four days and worst-seeded team to win the most-storied conference tournament in college basketball.

They’re also the fourth ACC champion to win the title by beating the top-three seeds.

Duke lost Coach K’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium to rival North Carolina a week ago, derailing what the school hoped would be a celebration of the winningest coach in Division I men’s college basketball.

The top-seeded and seventh-ranked Blue Devils (28-6) got another chance for a feel-good victory and to add at least one more trophy to the case for the retiring Hall of Famer. Again it was not to be.

“I tell them all the time don’t worry about me,” Krzyzewski said. “Even in a moment of defeat I want to be there with them. How do we use it? How do we get better?

He added: “Last weekend the whole word was talking about (his retirement). So it was a very difficult weekend. What we’ve tried to do is eliminate everything. These are young guys. I’ve loved coaching them. I think we can be good in the (NCAA) Tournament. I was really positive with them afterwards.”

When Justyn Mutts made a two-hand slam over Duke’s star freshman Paolo Banchero with 2:26 left in the second half, Virginia Tech led 76-64 and the outnumbered Hokies fans rose with roar.

“The next dead ball we went to the huddle and it was like, `We can taste it. We can taste it now,”‘ point guard Storm Murphy said.

Virginia Tech’s first ACC championship since joining the conference in 2004 was sealed.

Soon after Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” the Hokies’ unofficially fight song, blared throughout Barclays Center and the Virginia Tech fans sang along like it was the fourth quarter at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Banchero scored 20 points for Duke, which shot 4 for 20 from 3-point range and allowed the Hokies to make 50% of their shots.

Virginia Tech’s last – and only – conference tournament championship came in 1979 when the Hokies were in the Metro Conference.

Young led his teams to five Southern Conference Tournament titles in 17 seasons at Wofford. It only took him three season to get his first with Virginia Tech and he did it with a roster full of guys he recruited to play at his old school.

Murphy and Keve Aluma (19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists) are both transfers from Wofford and Cattoor was set to go there out of high school before Young took the Virginia Tech job.

Meanwhile, Krzyzewski was denied his 16th ACC title in his 42nd season.

Barclays Center is a long way from Cameron, both literally and figuratively, but the Duke fans did their best to make it feel like a Blue Devils’ home game.

But nothing came easy for Duke this week in Brooklyn.

Duke didn’t have a halftime lead in any of the games at Barclays Center.

On Saturday night, down three at half, Duke began the second half with a sloppy turnover on offense and then gave up a driving layup.

Krzyzewski called a timeout 35 seconds into the half and laid into his team, getting out of his chair to demonstrate the movement he wanted to see from his players.

The scolding did not have the desired result. Cattoor swished his sixth 3 and then made a steal on the other end that he turned into old-fashioned three-point play with a driving layup.

That put the Hokies up 55-45 less than five minutes into the half.

Duke didn’t fold, but every time the Blue Devils applied pressure, the Hokies responded.

When Cattoor made his seventh 3 from the top of the arc with 6:05 to play, the Hokies went up 70-60 and it became apparent this was Virginia Tech’s night to celebrate.

Cattoor was 7 for 9 from 3-point range, 11 for 16 overall.

Krzyzewski praised the way the junior moves without the ball. “He had a Klay Thompson night,” he said.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies were 2-7 at one point in ACC play, but finished with a kick, going 13-2 to play their way off the bubble.

“I knew when it came together it was going to be a beautiful thing and they came together,” Young said. “I didn’t think it would culminate in this, But we’re not going to give it back.”

Duke: Krzyzewski came into the tournament worrying about his team’s defense and then it played three shaky games on that end in Brooklyn. He still believes there is time to turn it around.

“Very confident because we’ll be able to practice,” Krzyzewski said, noting the youthful Blue Devils had only one practice since the North Carolina game.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season.

Duke: The Blue Devils are probably looking at a No. 3 seed when the bracket is set Sunday.

Virginia Tech looks to top No. 7 Duke, win first ACC tourney title

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Seventh-seeded Virginia Tech enters the championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament against top-seeded Duke in an unusual mindset.

While the Hokies (22-12) aren’t sure if they’ve locked up an NCAA Tournament berth, they do know this: With a win Saturday night over the seventh-ranked Blue Devils (28-5) in New York City, they would be ACC tournament champions for the first time, and their place in the NCAA would be assured.

This is uncharted territory for Tech. The Hokies are in the ACC final for the first time since they joined the league in 2004-05.

“I’ve got a very good basketball team,” Tech coach Mike Young said. “We had some struggles early in the year, but we’re playing pretty good basketball now at the right time.”

This, of course, is business as usual for Duke, which has won more ACC tournaments (21) than any school in the conference, including 15 under retiring Mike Krzyzewski, who will coach his final ACC game on Saturday night.

After Duke’s 80-76 semifinal win over Miami on Friday, Krzyzewski tried to shift the spotlight to his players.

“I’m trying to get away from all that. It’s really too much,” the longtime coach said of the attention he’s received. “I’ve had it numerous times. It’s all theirs, and I’m going to try to do my best to help them in their season.”

Duke had to play well on Friday to advance. AJ Griffin (21 points, seven rebounds) and Paolo Banchero (18 points, 11 rebounds) made a combined 15 of 22 shots from the floor.

Then, down the stretch, Wendell Moore Jr. emerged. In the final six minutes, he scored eight of his 17 points. When the Blue Devils were wavering after Miami took the lead, 62-61, with 6:10 left, Moore answered with a defining sequence.

First he made a jumper. Then, at the other end, he blocked a shot, collected the loose ball and took it for a fast-break layup and a 65-62 lead. Then in the final minute, Moore made 4 of 4 free throws to help the Blue Devils ice it.

“A couple weeks ago, I said I wish they would be smarter,” Krzyzewski said. “The last two games they’ve been very smart.”

Duke will run into a red-hot Tech squad that is coming off tournament wins over Clemson on Wednesday, second-seeded Notre Dame on Thursday and third-seeded North Carolina on Friday.

The Hokies’ emerging star, Darius Maddox, who made a 3-pointer at the buzzer of overtime in Tech’s opening-round win over Clemson, scored a career-high 20 points in a 72-59 win against UNC, making 4 of 5 shots from beyond the arc.

Defense paved the way for Tech as it held formidable UNC to 36.7 percent shooting from the floor. The Tar Heels made just 3 of 26 (11.5 percent) from beyond the arc.

“That’s been drilled into us,” Tech’s Keve Aluma said. “If we can guard them and keep them at a low score then, the offense comes easier and everything starts to click.”

Duke won the lone meeting between the teams this year, 76-65 on Dec. 22. Tech had an eight-point lead in the second half before going cold from the perimeter. After the break, the Hokies made just 1 of 9 shots from distance.

Aluma had 25 points and 10 rebounds while Banchero scored 23 points to lead the Blue Devils.

Banchero, No. 2 Duke beat Virginia Tech 76-65 in ACC opener

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
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DURHAM, N.C.- A.J. Griffin attacked the paint for a whistle-drawing basket, then headed toward the sideline to exchange excited high-fives with Duke’s famously rowdy home fans.

After struggling to break loose against Virginia Tech, the second-ranked Blue Devils were showing off their edge behind Griffin, fellow freshman Paolo Banchero and a smaller-ball lineup that powered a second-half burst.

Banchero had 23 points and Duke shot 62% after halftime to beat Virginia Tech 76-65 on Wednesday night, erasing an eight-point deficit early in the second half to win its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

Banchero scored 17 points in his dominant second half, fueled by the move to a perimeter-heavy lineup around the versatile 6-foot-10 star freshman. The move changed the flow of the game, both in Duke’s ability to defend ball switches and to get out in transition while slowing Keve Aluma after his big first-half performance.

“It just makes us hard to guard all around,” said Wendell Moore Jr., who had 18 points for Duke (11-1, 1-0).

And Banchero was the toughest of all.

“He’s that talented. I mean, he’s that good,” Hokies coach Mike Young said. “We tried to go with Aluma, we tried to go with (Justyn) Mutts. Those two kids are hard-nosed and know what they’re looking at, they’ve played a number of really good players. Paolo was better.”

Banchero sparked the go-ahead push from a 42-36 deficit, scoring on a drive, then sticking back his own miss and draining a step-back 3-pointer – all against Aluma. He followed that by getting airborne and then zipping a pass to a cutting Trevor Keels for a layup and a 43-42 lead at the 14:31 mark.

The margin grew from there, with Banchero scoring on an up-and-under move against Aluma and then putting in his own miss to cap a 27-7 run that pushed Duke to a 63-49 advantage with 7:35 to go.

It was a dominant stretch from Duke’s star freshman, who had been thoroughly outplayed by Aluma, a 6-9 redshirt senior, in the opening half.

“I wanted to come out and have a strong second half, get to the basket more, establish myself inside,” Banchero said. “Yeah, I still feel like I missed a lot of chippies and stuff like that. Definitely could’ve played a lot better, but I definitely picked it up in the second half.”

Aluma had 17 points before halftime to help Virginia Tech (8-5, 0-2) lead 36-32 at the break, but things were tougher the rest of the way as he finished with 25 points to go with 10 rebounds. Mutts added 20 points for the Hokies.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies had split their last four games, including a loss to Wake Forest in their conference opener. Young’s team played with composure throughout the opening half and early in the second, but never managed to counter Duke once the Blue Devils got rolling downhill. Virginia Tech, which joined the ACC for the 2004-05 season, has still won only once (January 2007) at the Blue Devils’ famously hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke: Call it a small-ball lineup or maybe go with Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski’s preferred “good ballhandling lineup.” Either way, the grouping – Banchero, Moore, the 6-6 freshman Griffin, fellow freshman wing Trevor Keels and point guard Jeremy Roach – turned Duke loose, both in defending and Duke’s determination to attack off the drive. That group scored 41 of Duke’s 44 second-half points.

“The determination that, for about a five-minute period, of us going to the basket – there were no plays called,” Krzyzewski said. “Our guys were just really strong. … So we grew up a lot in that second half.”

LAST CHANCE

Virginia Tech thrice closed within seven in the final 5 1/2 minutes, and had a terrific opportunity to draw even closer when Aluma got a wide-open corner 3 down 72-65. But he couldn’t connect, and then Keels followed with two free throws and a transition layup off a steal to all but seal this one.

“Felt good about it,” Young said. “Looked good. Just didn’t get it down.”

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech shot 43% for the game but went just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers after halftime. Griffin finished with 10 of his 13 points after halftime. Virginia Tech had eight of its 10 turnovers in the second half, leading to 15 points for the Blue Devils. Duke has won four straight games. Hunter Cattoor had 10 points for the Hokies.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies visit North Carolina next Wednesday.

Duke: The Blue Devils visit Clemson next Wednesday.

Franklin, Missouri St. women defeat No. 24 Virginia Tech

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Jasmine Franklin scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and went 9 of 10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter to lead Missouri State to a 76-68 win over No. 24 Virginia Tech at the San Juan Shootout on Friday.

Missouri State (4-1) led 23-9 after one quarter, hitting three 3-pointers, going 7 of 14 overall and 6 for 6 from the line while the Hokies were 4 of 14 with one free throw.

The Hokies (5-1) never recovered as Missouri State was 15 of 16 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Abigayle Jackson scored a career-high 18 points, Sydney Wilson 16 and sixth-year senior and Missouri Valley Conference MVP Brice Calip 10 in picking up her 101st career win. Franklin earned her fourth double-double of the season. The Bears finished 27 of 30 from the free throw line to 8 of 15 for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech scored nine-straight in the second quarter to get within five but Missouri State surged ahead 36-26 at the half. The lead was double figures throughout the third quarter and never closer than eight in the fourth. The Bears were unflinching from the line, offsetting Virginia Tech finally finding the range and going 10 of 18 from the field – which only brought the Hokies 42% shooting.

Elizabeth Kitley scored 21 points and Kayana Traylor 12 for Virginia Tech, which plays Tennessee-Martin on Saturday.

Missouri State has beaten a Power 5 opponent in nine consecutive seasons and with wins over USC and Virginia Tech the Bears got their 15th win in that span. They play LSU on Saturday.

Virginia Tech extends AD Babcock’s contract through 2029

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BLACKSBURG, Va.—Virginia Tech has extended the contract of athletic director Whit Babcock for five years, keeping him with the school through June 2029.

The school announced the extension Monday.

“Whit Babcock and his roster of talented coaches have done an outstanding job, creating memorable moments for our students, alumni, and fans, and making the student-athlete experience their top priority,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “Whit and his leadership team have the right long-term vision and have demonstrated their ability to manage the rapidly changing landscape in collegiate athletics.”

During his tenure, Babcock has hired new coaches in several high-profile sports, most notably tabbing Justin Fuente as football coach after College Football Hall of Famer Frank Beamer ended a 29-year run and retired in 2015. Babcock also hired Buzz Williams as men’s basketball coach, and Mike Young after Williams left for Texas A&M in 2019.

He hired Kenny Brooks as women’s basketball coach in 2016, and last year the Hokies’ basketball teams both made the NCAA Tournament in the same year for the first time in school history.

Tech has also had successful fundraising efforts during Babcock’s tenure, including a $20.4 million Student-Athlete Performance Center that feeds all of the Hokies student-athletes, and has expanded facilities to keep pace with similar programs.

Among the projects have been renovations to Cassell Coliseum, where the basketball teams play, and English Field, where the baseball team plays.