Radford's Shot Lifts Hokies To Thrilling Win Over 'Heels

Virginia Tech had to work overtime to earn its fifth ACC win of the season.

[Virginia Tech Athletics \ Dave Knachel]

Mike Young walked into his postgame presser looking a bit more subdued than normal and apologized to the media in attendance as he quickly gobbled down a post-game meal.

It was a long night for the first-year Virginia Tech coach. The Hokies didn't shoot the ball particularly well (14-of-37 from three-point range), had a hard time stopping North Carolina forward Garrison Brooks (28 points and 13 rebounds) and freshman standout Landers Nolley struggled from the field as he went just 5-of-17 shooting for 22 points.

And while in its recent stretch of games, Tech has seen different players step up on various nights — Jalen Cone at Syracuse, Tyrece Radford on the road against Wake Forest, Nolley against N.C. State — this one brought out a strong, collective effort.

"I hope they're growing up," said Young, whose rotation consisted of two juniors, a sophomore and six freshmen in the 79-77 double-overtime win over the Tar Heels Wednesday. "Their coach is growing older by the game. They drive me crazy, in a great way. We played a lot of ball now. We're not new to this. Jalen Cone, Nahiem [Alleyne] — those guys have played a lot of college basketball and we've seen a number of plays."

There's no doubt Tyrece Radford will get a majority of the attention from the victory over struggling UNC, which has now lost six straight in the ACC for the first time in program history. That's well-earned after the gritty freshman took a handoff from Nolley on the right wing and drove hard toward the basket with his left hand before scooping in the game-winning shot over Jeremiah Francis with 0.4 seconds remaining.

But what about the back-to-back 3s from Cone with 3:05 left in the second half that cut the Tech deficit to 59-58? Or when P.J. Horne — the same guy who was shooting 56 percent from the charity stripe this season — hit two free throws to tie the game at 60 and force overtime? Oh, and don't forget Nolley's game-tying layup with 27.4 seconds left in the first overtime or Wabissa Bede's corner 3 right in front of the Tech bench with 4:13 left in the second overtime that gave the Hokies their first lead since the first half.

"It definitely feels great to have one go our way, especially when we're about to have two road games," said Cone, who had a career-high six 3s. "We're just going to keep this momentum and stay together as a team. Our team just loves to fight. We live for moments like this. We just told each other, 'I've got your back and you've got my back.'"

Indeed, they were there for each other on the floor, but that unanimous support wasn't the only thing that stood out in the victory. It was that each one showed us how they're growing up in front of our very eyes this season.

Radford played a season-low 21 minutes. Yet, with the game on the line and Young putting him in primarily for defensive purposes, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound guard found himself with an opportunity to provide the winning score. Sure enough, he provided.

"Boots [Tyrece Radford] coming in, making that play with the game-winning floater, that's what Boots does," Cone said. "He's a dog on both ends. You see he has games with crazy rebounds and points. He stays ready and when we needed him, he came through."

Remember Nolley's late-game blunder in the loss to Syracuse on Saturday? Well, the freshman standout took blame for that and despite not having his best night shooting the basketball, played a big key defensively in slowing down Brooks in the second half and was also the facilitator that got the ball to Radford on the game-winning final play.

"On that play, Landers is driving right at me and I said, 'Play,'" Young said. "It was a high score and the natural instinct for most young people is they get closer to the person they're guarding. They don't want their man to score. Landers made exactly the right play. He didn't make the right play [Saturday]. He's a great player and he learned from his mistake. He drove it as far as he could drive it, gave the ball to Tyrece Radford and he got it into his left hand and got all the way to the rim. He got it home for a nice win."

Bede continued his incredibly efficient season as the engine for this Hokies squad with eight assists and just one turnover. That put him at 120 assists and 30 turnovers for the year, which ranks third in the NCAA behind Pacific's Pierre Crockrell II and Iowa's Connor McCaffery. His 3 in the second overtime also came after some agonizing misses.

"It was just a rhythm shot, it's just a shot," Bede said. "I shoot one every day after practice and before practice. It's just a shot I'm very comfortable with and happy with."

When you looked at the Tar Heels on Wednesday, it was a far cry from the team most folks thought would be coming to Blacksburg at this point in the season. UNC was still without top scorer Cole Anthony (19.1 ppg) along with No. 3 scorer Brandon Robinson (12.1 ppg), freshman guard Anthony Harris (former Tech commit) and Sterling Manley.

That wasn't the case with Mike Young and the Hokies, however, as the deep group of youngsters once again found a way to pull out a win in ACC play. That's something Young said he felt fortunate to earn with a group that's exceeded all expectations.

"I feel relief," Young said. "I feel relieved to have won another ACC game on a night where North Carolina played a good ball game. We had to guard them as good as we guarded them. Of course, [UNC guard] Leaky [Black] is banging threes and Justin Pierce is banging threes. We couldn't have guarded it any differently tonight. With our size compared to their size, our team did exactly what we asked them to do. I am proud of their defensive rebounding and sticking to what we've done throughout to get to this point."

One could argue that a victory against the Tar Heels was one Tech should have expected, considering the struggles UNC is facing this season. And sure, a loss certainly would have put a black eye on the Hokies' resume when it comes tournament time in March.

But the win brought out the best of a little bit of everyone on Tech's roster and that's something Young and the Hokies have to be encouraged with moving forward through the second half of conference play. ESPN's College Basketball Power Index bumped Tech's chances of reaching the NCAA tourney up to 73 percent after the 'W'.

"We will have an opportunity to go back and look at this," Young said about his team slowly maturing. "I do think our team is growing in a number of areas, to be frank."

The first-year Virginia Tech coach, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite, got his ham sandwich. And the young Hokies? Yep. They got yet another improbable win.

Comments

#MYcoach for COTY

If they keep this up, no way he doesn't get at least ACC COTY. What he's been able to accomplish vs. what everyone thought this season was going to be is astounding.

Doubtful.

Roy Williams will get it for the miracle job he's doing with the least skilled team he's ever had.

Is that before or after the AD fires him like Roy requested?

Lol this is grossly underrated. Bravo, sir.

It's been great to watch him come in after Buzz and continue the momentum he built over his time.

I guess it has to be asked...Are we a basketball school now?

I like to think we've always been a basketball school, we were just hibernating for years at a time.

Virginia Tech Class of 2010. Former member of "330 Strong, The Spirit of Tech." I lived in Pritchard when it was all dudes.

Great stuff Cody!

One of the key plays of the game for me was when Radford blocked that 3 on the corner late in the second half. That was huge!

Is it basketball season yet?

CMY has to love this. He spent years at Wofford being a sacrificial lamb to the early season record padding of the Tobacco Road ACC. Being able to put another nail in UNC's tournament chances probably feels real nice right now. Here's to hoping he runs through the rest of them smiling all the way.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

Well written...thanks!

I really appreciate the sincerity in CMY, he's just a plain spoken guy.

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Agreed, he's such a contrast to his predecessor. Buzz did some great things for our program, but he rarely talked basketball. He always seemed to work so hard at making everything he said sound like it belonged on one of those motivational posters or it came out of some self-help book on living your best life. Not trying to knock Buzz, it's just who he is. But damn, CMY could be Carolina bad this season and I would still be enjoying our coach talking hoops.

"Don't go to, go through"

So the team was fighting to get back in that game, but it didn't feel like the comeback truly happened until the two missed free throws that gave everyone free bacon. You could feel the momentum completely swing in our favor at that very moment. From that point forward the crowd was in it. I think Bede immediately went down and got a layup.

It was a great game. Yes, UNC is terrible, but their size and athleticism were always going to be a very tough match up for us.

I agree completely and said the same thing on the FAM thread. Give Smithfield an assist on the W.

Unfortunately it's been reported Smithfield entered the portal earlier today

Hey, it's not funny. You shouldn't joke about bacon. It's wrong.

"Don't go to, go through"

Must've gotten passed on the depth chart by Jimmy Dean sausage.

Love my Jimmy Dean, but we're talking bacon. Always the starter, never gets old, never plays enough, much less too much. Leg for a good joke, though.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Just more evidence that regular bacon is a greater motivator than turkey bacon.

This deserves to go plaid, IMO.

I thought we'd lost this game three times. What a ride. Hopefully I'll learn that this team is NEVER out of the game...unless we can't score 40 points. And it just seems fitting that the BBall game went into multiple OTs against UNC, as much as I wanted a definitive stomping on their already stone bruised 'heels.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Yeah. At three different times during the game I said "Fuck, we're gonna lose." And yet we did not. Gonna be hard keeping the O&M glasses off at this point. Reminds me a lot about how I felt in Brent's second year, when we kept winning close ones when it looked like we would not. We have trouble creating great looks, but manage to get the points anyway, and force the other team to make hard enough shots they seems to miss when we need them to.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

This was almost better. Heels thought they were finally going to win. You don't expect to lose this much when you commit to UNC. Has to be tough.

Honestly, I feel bad for their players. They'll be better in the future for it.

You know who I don't feel bad for...?

ROY and every UNC fan in the world.

I. Love. This. Team. And. Mike. Young.

"These people are losing their minds" - Mike Patrick

Great write up. The Mike Young offense is fun to watch. Even though we had a cold shooting night, the motions, slashes and pops he runs lead to so many wide open looks. That is all you can ask for. If you get enough wide open shots they will eventually fall. You can tell that all 9 guys are completely bought in to this system and the culture that CMY is building.

he definitely lets his players be themselves, which is different than a lot of coaches (like Bennett or Boeheim, for example). CMY's system seems more of enhancing each players own skillset and working with it rather than molding them into how you want them to play. It is really enjoyable, and imo, more enjoyable than Buzz's system (although his system was super enjoyable too, especially with jrob).

I didn't know that I would actually enjoy and look forward to college basketball this much.

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Great writeup. On the last play Landers brought the ball up and ran right at coach as if we were going to call a timeout (like the Syracuse game), but MYcoach gave him the "carryon" motion. I think it may have deked the Tarheels, it was a natural place to take a timeout. Maybe we should practice this move.

It sure was good to have the students back in full force. The free bacon throws definitely turned a good crowd into a great one, and playing sandman shortly after that didn't hurt a bit either.

Every game I give my phone to the 90 year old lady who sits next to us, so that she can read/sing along with Metallica. She has been a season holder since the 1950s, and usually gets a cameo on the big screen for being the best dressed fan (IMO). She also wants to high five every shot we make.

Wife and I fist bump every made shot, every turnover we force, every foul shot made. We slap hands at particularly important plays and ring the ship's bell when we win (and give the dogs their treat). Every one.

As for the Nolley thing, while my wife always gripes about the lack of time outs called in what she deems crucial junctures, I often disagree. The Syracuse game was a good example of that not doing us any good at all, slowing the momentum and giving Boohime time to make coaching adjustments and giving us less than optimal time to get the ball in play and set up for a shot before game's end. Balls to the wall, I say, but when CMY called that time out with .4 left? My wife finally said that yes indeed, all time outs don't need to be called. That was one long held breath for us, but so proud of the way this team keeps exceeding expectations. Sure makes the next morning a bit brighter, doesn't it?

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I think the time out with 0.4 seconds was to ensure that there was not foul on the in-bounds due to excitement and lack of defensive positioning.

There was only time to catch and shoot so "do not foul under any circumstances", the UNC player can not advance the ball or make any moves with that amount of time left.

I think CMY called the timeout because he had no clue how much time was left. I think he was just trying to get it called assuming there were 1-3 seconds. Had he known it was just 0.4, then maybe he doesn't.

If it is 0.4 seconds, I'd prefer no timeout. But 1-10 seconds left...I definitely like a timeout in that situation.

To reply to two posts, I agree with what he had in mind for the time out. Don't foul, etc., but I also believe he knew time was winding to a nub, but had to watch the action and didn't realize there was that little time left. Either way, we winned.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I think if it became something obvious, teams would prepare for it. I mean they should play until the whistle, but I'm sure they loosen up when expecting a time out.

I think it would be like the fake spike in the NFL. Once you use it, every one will expect it.

I think it may have deked the Tarheels, it was a natural place to take a timeout. Maybe we should practice this move.

Wish I had evidence, but against Syracuse I texted my buddy we should fake the TO and drive it. I think it can be very circumstantial, but when tied or down by 1 and only needing a layup, I would prefer just running with it and trying to catch them a off guard.

Yes, I noticed the exact same thing. MY waved him on and I said out loud to my housemates that we were gonna big dick it for the win. Love that play. UNC didn't know how to react.

For the record, I'm sure this article was written before Iowa finished their game last night, but Bede is now 2nd on the list for highest assist-turnover ratio. He is also 18th in the nation in assists/game. That's extremely impressive when you consider the following:

  • Playing with no seniors
  • Playing with mostly freshman
  • Playing in a power 5 conference
  • Playing in the ACC
  • Have already played games against MSU, Duke, UVA and UNC

On top of his stats, you can easily see how well Bede has done as the leader of this team. Every time one of the younger guys makes a mistake, Bede is there to give constructive advice and get everyone on the right page. He has clearly been the glue of this young team and in my opinion, despite his shooting woes, our most valuable player this year.

The long bounce pass to Wilkins through two defenders on the fast break was insane. Cannot believe he got that pass through and that Wilkins was able to handle and finish. In the replay, you can see Bede jump 3 feet of the ground in excitement that it worked. Just outstanding!

Last year's team was elite in transition. Absolutely lethal and it was so fun to watch. When the young players on this team get more comfortable in transition, they're going to take a big jump in how good they can be. They were really good in transition for the NCST game. And they were good in transition in this one too. The Bede steal from Brooks that led to the Cone transition 3 in 1OT or 2OT was really good. And early in the game Cone go the ball up floor quickly and go it to Nolley for a transition 3.

Bede is a near perfect PG for the freshman we have on this team. He takes leadership and distributes the ball well, allowing those talented freshmen to score. A high scoring PG like JRob or Erick Green wouldn't jive as well with these freshmen.

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Got 3 coupons and a W, winning.

My word, that's a powerful image. I can smell it, and taste it, but I can't eat it if I don't got it and I don't. Torture.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

fam

Popcorn and a ham sandwich...the meal of a champion?

My favorite thing about Mike Young is that understands what it means to be a Hokie and he wants to be here. It's nice to have a coach that sees Virginia Tech as big time and wants to do special things here; not to boost his resume but for the long haul and growth of the program. It's easier to sell recruits on a school when you buy what you are selling.