Virginia Tech isn’t at its best beating Charleston Southern

BLACKSBURG — Luckily for the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team, the Hokies have no other opponents from Charleston, South Carolina, on their schedule this season.

For the second time in six days, a Charleston opponent gave the Hokies fits on Friday night. But this time the Hokies prevailed.

In a game with less than two minutes to go, Virginia Tech defeated Charleston Southern 69-64 at the Cassell Coliseum.

“Holy cow!” said tech coach Mike Young after the win. “Credit Charleston Southern. These guys played a good ball game.

“I don’t think my team played that badly. We weren’t great. We weren’t really good on either side. But these guys came here to fight and they fought.”

Justyn Mutts had 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Hokies (6-1) who lost 77-75 in last Sunday’s Charleston Classic at the College of Charleston.

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Big South member Charleston Southern (2-3) had suffered two one-sided losses this season, losing 82-56 at Ohio State and 99-79 at Tulane.

But this game wasn’t a blowout.

“We didn’t play our best basketball,” Mutts said. “We didn’t do a lot of things that we had to do. … Defensively, I didn’t think we kept the ball well in front of us. We gave up a lot of open 3s.”

“They’ve got some guys that can really hop,” said Lynn Kidd, tech backup center.

Kidd dived to give Tech a final lead 66-64, 1:22 left.

“We spend a lot of hours in the gym. I’m always confident,” Kidd said.

Kidd scored a career-high 11 points. He also scored eight rebounds.

“He played a really good ball game,” said Young. “Kept some things alive on the glass in one night as Grant [Basile] didn’t have his best stuff.

Kidd played a total of 25 minutes last season as a runner-up when he scored seven points.

“Once the season was over last year, I really started going to the gym more,” he said. “I really wanted to take this year seriously and I think it’s working so far.

“I’ve really worked on everything from conditioning my body to my footwork. I tried slowing down the game. I really think that helped me a lot.

“I was very motivated. I thought, ‘I really don’t want to be in this situation again.’ So I really tried to do my best, let’s see where that would take me.”

Kidd played 14 minutes on Friday, making it into double digits in minutes for the fifth time this season.

“He worked [in the offseason]said Young. “I believe in basketball gods. They’re in every basketball facility. And they smile at those who are working on their game and are serious about it. And he’s had an incredible summer in the weight room, on the floor.

“He deserves everything he gets.”

Kidd, who is in his second season at Tech after joining from Clemson, has scored six of his team’s last 19 points.

“I really learned a lot from people like Keve last year [Aluma, who is now playing in Japan] …and even Justyn,” Kidd said. “That helped me a lot this year.”

Mutts scored nine of the team’s last 19 points.

“I don’t like being selfish. … So at certain points my coaches and my teammates are telling me to stop playing the ball,” Mutts said. “But that’s just my game, so I can’t do that.”

Sean Pedulla had 15 points for Tech while Darius Maddox added 12 points.

The visitors scored five points in a row to finish the game at 50 with 11:09.

After Mutts scored to give Tech a 52-50 lead, Claudell Harris Jr. (17 points) made a layup to level the game at 52.

Taje’ Kelly (16 points) gave the visitors a 54-52 lead, but Kidd responded with a basket to level the game.

After Harris scored, Kidd ducked to tie the game at 56.

Maddox made a layup to give Tech the lead. Mutts scored to extend the lead to 60-56.

But Kelly made two baskets to tie the game at 60 with 3:13.

Mutts took two free throws to give Tech a 62-60 lead.

Harris made a layup to level the game but Mutts scored to give Tech a 64-62 lead.

Harris struck again to tie the game with 1:45 left, but Kidd dipped to give Tech a 66-64 lead with 1:22 left.

After Reggie Duhart missed a hook shot, Hunter Cattoor snagged the defensive rebound for Tech.

Mutts grabbed one of two free throws to extend the lead to 67-64 with 28.4 seconds to go.

Charleston Southern’s Tahlik Chavez (12 points) missed a 3-pointer. Harris also missed a 3-pointer, with Cattoor grabbing the defensive rebound. Cattoor was fouled and took two free throws to seal the win by 3.9 seconds.

Tech shot just 35.5% from the field in the second half, including 12.5% ​​(1 of 8) from 3-point range.

Charleston Southern shot 43.3% from field in the game, making eight 3-pointers to Tech’s six.

“We were a step too slow for the ball,” Young said. “Their rhythm strokes were too comfortable. We couldn’t put any pressure on them.”

The Buccaneers passed Tech 38-37.

Tech played full forward John Camden, who had a protective boot on his right foot. Young said Camden injured his ankle when he stepped on a teammate’s foot in practice earlier in the week. Young said Camden will be sidelined for a week to 10 days.