Virginia Tech controls Liberty after half, advances to Sweet 16

Reuters

Virginia Tech post player Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the fourth-seeded Hokies over Liberty 67-58 in a second-round game in the East Region in San Jose, Calif., on Sunday.

Blackshear's work inside helped offset the early hot shooting of the 12th-seeded Flames, who went cold in the second half, going almost seven minutes without a basket until Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz's 3-pointer brought Liberty within 59-54 with 2:24 left.

Virginia Tech point guard Justin Robinson responded with a jumper, and Blackshear made a layup to help the Hokies hold off Liberty (29-7).

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Virginia Tech (26-8) set a school record for victories and will play No. 1 seed Duke on Friday in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C. The Hokies beat the Blue Devils 77-72 on Feb. 26 in the teams' only meeting this season, though Blue Devils star freshman Zion Williamson was out with a knee injury.

Ahmed Hill scored 14 points for Virginia Tech, and Ty Outlaw had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Robinson, playing in his second game after missing several weeks because of a foot injury, came off the bench to post 13 points and four assists.

Liberty freshman guard Darius McGhee made 5 of 11 3-point shots for a team-high 15 points. Lovell Cabbil Jr. and Pacheco-Ortiz each scored nine. Caleb Homesley, who scored a career-high 30 points in a first-round upset over Mississippi State, shot 3 of 11 from the field and finished with eight points.

Virginia Tech used an 11-0 run to take a 52-44 lead midway through the second half as Liberty endured a five-minute scoring drought. The Flames shot 38.3 percent (18 of 47) for the game.

McGhee sparked the Flames in the first half, hitting 4 of 7 shots from behind the arc. He had scored only three points total in the previous three games.

Liberty led 26-18 before Blackshear led an 8-0 run to tie the game. The Flames scored the next six points, but Hill hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left to bring the Hokies within 32-29 at the half. Blackshear had nine points and seven rebounds before the break.

Virginia Tech will be making its second Sweet 16 appearance in school history -- its first since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. The Hokies were also part of the final 16 teams in 1967, when they needed just one victory to reach that round.

--Field Level Media

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