After five wins to open the season, the shine is off Virginia Tech. The Hokies have lost six of their last nine, have had to fend off a COVID surge that forced the team to postpone two games, and remain winless in Atlantic Coast Conference action.
After a 12-day layoff, the Tech's rust and lack of fitness showed in a 68-63 loss to North Carolina State on Jan. 4. An additional seven days off has enabled the team to regain its health, conduct full practices and perhaps undergo a reset.
On Wednesday night at rival Virginia (9-6, 3-2 ACC), the Hokies (8-6, 0-3) hope the fresh start will get their season back on course.
"We've got an opportunity to get everything back together -- our conditioning, get back in the weight room, get our timing squared away," Tech coach Mike Young said.
Tech's lack of stamina appeared to be a factor against NC State as the Hokies yielded the lead in the last four minutes. The Hokies also were outrebounded 36-26.
"Our quickness to the ball was lacking and that was evident," Young said.
Virginia, too, is coming off a deflating loss in which it was beaten to the ball. In falling at North Carolina 74-58, the Cavaliers surrendered career highs of 29 points and 21 rebounds to Armando Bacot, who had five putbacks.
"You've got to come into these games with an edge and (be) alert, and I don't think we had that," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "We did not have two great days of prep. I thought we were not as alert and as sharp as we needed to be."
Virginia leads overall series, 95-57, but Virginia Tech won the most recent meeting, 65-51, last year at home when Keve Aluma scored 29 points.
While Aluma leads Tech in scoring (15.2 points per game) his numbers are down in virtually every other category from last season. His 3-point accuracy (35.1 percent last season) has dipped to 23.5 percent.
Nahiem Alleyne is another Hokie struggling with his shooting touch, making just three of 22 shots in Tech's three ACC defeats.
Virginia looks to top scorer (15.0 points per game) and rebounder (7.5) Jayden Gardner.
--Field Level Media