Published: Sun, December 17, 2017
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Kentucky hols off Virginia Tech, 93-86

Kentucky hols off Virginia Tech, 93-86

That's 148 games, mind you.

And Tech shot the ball well, hitting 58.2 percent of their shots.

The undersized Hokies competed on the glass.

Talk about a recipe for an upset.

Hokies coach Buzz Williams had been anxious that Tech turnovers would turn into Kentucky baskets, and those fears were realized Saturday.

The Hokies were too careless with the basketball and, for the first time this season, the Wildcats stroked it from beyond the arc.

Tech committed 19 turnovers that led to 36 Kentucky points as the No. 8 Wildcats held off the Hokies, 93-86, at Rupp Arena on Saturday.

Opportunity lost, but confidence gained.

"We win or we learn", he said on Friday. Virginia Tech had just 13 points off 11 Wildcats turnovers. And there's your game.

Unfortunately, it was the Hokies who came out on the short end because of turnovers and second chance points. The Hokies dropped to 9-2 with the loss, while the Wildcats improved to 9-1.

Kentucky made several clutch shots with the game in the balance.

But after going 7 for 12 from 3-point range in the first half, the Hokies missed their first 5 attempts in the second as Kentucky (9-1) kept them at arm's length in a game that had the feel and ferocity of a tournament game in March. "And that was the gamble", Williams said.

Kentucky was led by forward Kevin Knox and guard Hamidou Diallo, who scored 21 and 20, respectively. Coach John Calipari has stressed that kind of aggressiveness all season to his young team, and they responded by holding the Hokies 10 points below their nation-leading average of 96.2 per game despite allowing them to shoot 58 percent. "I was sitting there thinking, 'Man, are they this fast all game?'" "So there has to be some level of scheme, if that's the right word". "How about that?" Calipari said. "It's different than we play". The youthful team consists of eight freshmen and no seniors, but what it lacks in experience, it more than makes up for in height, with six players standing 6-9 or taller. Kentucky led briefly thereafter on Quade Green's floater, but the Hokies scored the next 10 in a row, with Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Bibbs sinking back-to-back three-pointers.

United Kingdom won the rebounding, 33-30, the ninth consecutive game that the Wildcats won or tied the boardwork. Saturday, Tech used high ball screens and other actions to create space for their shooters to launch from beyond the arc.

Quade Green led the way for United Kingdom with 10 points and 3 assists.

A back-and-forth game featuring 11 lead changes, eight ties and plenty of perimeter fireworks eventually swung Kentucky's way down the stretch thanks to Knox and Diallo, whose 3-pointer with 4:54 left made it 78-71.

Another freshman, Quade Green, scored 17 points off the bench despite wearing protective shades because of an eye injury he had suffered last weekend.

"They made more 3s than they've made all year".

P.J. Washington's two-handed dunk provided Kentucky with a 52-51 lead with 16:26 left in the second half, and Knox added a contested jumper from the foul line.

"We play in the best conference in the country", Robinson said when asked about Saturday's atmosphere, "so it's what we see every day, night in and night out".

And it showed. The Hokies aren't as talented as the Wildcats.

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