No. 24 Virginia Tech, driven by experience and depth, meets Grambling

Virginia Tech has accomplished plenty in the first portion of the season.

The No. 24 Hokies can put a nice finishing touch on the non-conference segment of their schedule when Grambling visits for Saturday’s game at Blacksburg, Va.

A chunk of success can be connected to Virginia Tech’s experience and blossoming depth.

“We’ve got guys that have been around,” coach Mike Young said. “There’s no substitute for it. They have seen a lot of plays.”

In this week’s AP poll, the Hokies (10-1) are ranked for the first time this season. They’ve posted five consecutive victories, including triumphs against North Carolina, Dayton and Oklahoma State in an eight-day period.

This might not be a case of Virginia Tech easing to the end of its non-league slate, however.

Grambling (6-3) already has defeated two teams from Power 5 conferences, something it had never done in the same season. The Tigers topped Colorado on Nov. 11 and Vanderbilt on Friday.

“I can’t say enough about our players and our coaching staff,” Grambling coach Donte Jackson said. “These men have risen to the occasion.”

So has Virginia Tech. It seems like some of the momentum from the Hokies’ Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title-game win over Duke last season might be making its way into this season.

The Hokies are a veteran group, and there’s no shortage of confidence. They’re one of three ACC teams to reach the 10-win mark so far.

Young said Virginia Tech has its best front-court depth since he arrived to coach the team.

Yet the Hokies might want to brush up on their perimeter shooting. They hit 10 or more shots from 3-point range in three of their first four games this season. Since then, they’ve made more than seven 3-pointers just once.

From the free-throw line, however, they attempted a season-high 24 shots Sunday against Oklahoma State, making 19.

The Hokies didn’t let a subpar shooting outing — 22 of 57 (38.6 percent) — in the Cowboys’ game derail them. Instead, their defense took over, and the result was a season-high 11 steals.

“A sign of us being a mature team,” Virginia Tech guard Hunter Cattoor said. “The ball is not always going to go in the basket.”

In the past five games, only one opponent — North Carolina — has scored 70 or more points against the Hokies. And there has been only one game – a home triumph against Minnesota — when the Hokies have committed more turnovers than their opponent.

Virginia Tech’s leading scorer is Sean Pedulla at an average of 16.9 points per game. He also averages a team-best 3.8 assists per game.

Carte’are Gordon is Grambling’s top scorer at 13.8 points per game.

Virginia Tech is 7-0 at home this season, including the conquering of North Carolina.

This is part of a two-game trip for Grambling, which will head to Liberty in Lynchburg, Va., for a game Monday night.

–Field Level Media