Through its first 21 games, Virginia Tech’s season has been one of runs.
The Hokies started the season 11-1 before losing seven of their next eight games. They’ve won their last two games leading into their Tuesday night matchup with the Hurricanes.
Miami, by comparison, has struggled to rattle off any consistency throughout January. The Hurricanes are 4-4 this month and have alternated between wins and losses for every game.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga has taken a forward-thinking approach to this game-by-game volatility.
“I think the ACC is an underrated league with a lot of really good teams. We have faced many of them and the games have come down to the last possession, the last shot, the last stop, and I think we’ve had some success with that, but we also have lost a few,” Larrañaga said to reporters on Monday. “I think right now, the whole key for us is the mental and emotional side of how do you put a game behind you very very quickly so you can focus on the next one and get ready for that one and play your best basketball that night.”
Miami (16-5, 7-4 ACC) will need to play its best brand of basketball against Virginia Tech (13-8, 3-7 ACC), especially when defending against senior forward Grant Basile.
The Wright State transfer has been on a tear during the Hokies’ two-game winning streak, averaging 24.5 points and eight rebounds during the stretch.
“Grant Basile is very very similar to … Blake Hinson from Pitt,” Larrañaga said. “They’re not just big. He’s [6-foot-9 and] 235 pounds, but he’s extremely skillful. He can shoot the three, he can drive it, he can post up, he’s a good offensive rebounder, he’s a good defender. He’s just a terrific all-around player having a great year.”
Basile poses a similar threat from beyond the arc that Hinson presented, with the latter using this skill to torch the Hurricanes last Saturday.
Hinson’s 14-point outburst in the second half was the catalyst in Pittsburgh’s successful comeback against Miami. 12 of these 14 points were off 3-pointers, with the remaining two coming from a second-chance basket that gave the Panthers their lasting lead.
To prevent this type of performance from happening to them for the second game in a row, the ‘Canes must run Basille off the 3-point line and force him to put the ball on the floor on the perimeter, which is not his strength.
Miami will also have to limit the production of sharpshooter Hunter Cattoor, who has made 16 of his 33 shot attempts from deep since his return from injury on Jan. 18.
Cattoor averaged 12 points in the Hokies’ two games against UM last year.
The two teams will match up at 7 p.m., and the game will air on ESPNU.
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