Sat, 23 Jan 2021

Virginia Tech looks to build on 2-0 start vs. South Florida

Field Level Media
29 Nov 2020, 17:40 GMT+10

A couple of games into the season, South Florida and Virginia Tech will see how they react to vastly different situations.

They have short turnaround times to respond to their latest results.

South Florida (1-1) and Virginia Tech (2-0) face off Sunday night in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Virginia Tech will enter the game on a huge high after a comeback for an 81-73 overtime victory against No. 3 Villanova late Saturday night.

"If we can take this and continue to build on this," Hokies coach Mike Young said of the possibilities, calling the upset a good step two games into the season.

A couple of hours earlier, South Florida dropped an 84-68 decision to Rhode Island.

So much seems new in this season that began during the coronavirus pandemic, and Virginia Tech has experienced much of it.

The Hokies, who defeated visiting Radford in Wednesday's season opener, were slated for a game Saturday against Temple as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-off. That was canceled because of coronavirus issues involving Temple.

Rather than be idle, the Hokies added the matchup with Villanova.

"We came here to play," Young said. "We came here to get better. ... Just getting it all together and seeing all the parts and where they fit."

It was the fourth time in its last six meetings with a top-3 team that Virginia Tech pulled an upset. Last November in the Maui Invitational, the Hokies stunned Michigan State.

South Florida coach Brian Gregory is a former coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference at Georgia Tech, so he has had teams match up with Virginia Tech in the past.

Gregory said playing high-caliber opponents should be beneficial.

"Obviously, we're going to get tested early," he said. "We're going to have to play well. We're going have to kind of dig down a little deeper on the defensive end and on the rebounding. It's going be good for us."

Both teams are continuing to adjust to the awkward atmosphere without crowds. That can be jarring.

"Just really different," Young said. "It's not going to be what we're accustomed to."

But Young is familiar with junior forward Keve Aluma, who posted 19 points - at the time a career-high total -- in his debut with the Hokies. He erased that with another career-best mark with 23 points against Villanova. He's a transfer from Wofford, where Young was the coach prior to taking the Virginia Tech job in the spring of 2019.

This will be the first South Florida-Virginia Tech game in 25 years. For four seasons in the early 1990s, they were members of the Metro Conference. The series record is even at 4-4, though Sunday night's meeting will be the first at a neutral site.

--Field Level Media

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