BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech coach Mike Young gave a simple explanation for why his team played much better Wednesday night than it had in the past five weeks when it had lost nine of the past 10 games. P.J. Horne scored 17 points and the Hokies had their second-best shooting performance of the season en route to a 70-58 victory over Clemson.
Horne connected on 6 of 10 from the floor for Virginia Tech (16-14, 7-12 Atlantic Coast Conference), which shot better than 50% for the first time in an ACC game this season and snapped a four-game losing streak. The Hokies also held Clemson to 35.1% (20 of 57) from the floor in playing arguably their most complete ACC game of the season. "I'm proud of our team," Young said. "We've battled through some things and stayed the course and found a way to get out of here in our home finale. Proud of our bunch."
Horne tied a career high with four 3-pointers, and Tyrece Radford added 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting for Virginia Tech, which shot 54.2% from the floor (26 of 48) and hit 12 3-pointers. Only their 56.5% shooting night against Delaware State in November has been better than Wednesday's performance – one in which the Hokies made 16 of 27 from the floor in the second half to pull away.
"Just ball movement and screening and making sure we're taking great shots instead of good shots," Horne said of the reasoning behind the success. "Coach says to take great shots, not good ones, and we did that." "When P.J. Horne has the ability to step out and make multiple 3's, that makes it really, really tricky to guard," Young said. "To make four, that's really difficult, and I rank Clemson in the top three or four, maybe top two, in our league in halfcourt defense."
Tevin Mack was the lone Clemson player in double figures, scoring 12 points. The Tigers (15-14, 9-10) had won four of their past five games coming into this game.
Virginia Tech broke open a close game midway through the second half. Clemson grabbed a 42-41 lead on a field goal by Mack with 13:59 remaining, but the Hokies responded with a 13-0 run. Hunter Cattoor and Jalen Cone capped the run, with Cattoor scoring on a breakaway dunk and a 3-pointer, and Cone burying a 3-pointer from the wing, giving a 54-42 lead. Clemson never recovered.
Cattoor scored nine points, Isaiah Wilkins had eight, and Cone added six to lead a Virginia Tech bench that finished with 23 points. "We played very poorly," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "Certainly some of that is because of the way they played. Some of it is because our energy level, for whatever reason, was very low. Communication was very poor. For whatever reason, mentally, we weren't in the game, and we didn't recover. I thought we played soft on both ends. This is one of our poorer performances of the season."