The BYU men’s basketball team will need to focus on a tough Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Wednesday at Virginia Tech, even as they are in the middle of their own conference games.
The Cougars (17-5) will travel across the country and through two time zones to play the non-conference matchup that begins a two-year agreement between the two schools. The Hokies (12-7) are scheduled to play in Utah next year.
“[Virginia Tech coach] Seth [Greenberg] and I have been trying to put a game together for years,” BYU head coach Dave Rose said. “This is what he suggested.”
The game comes at an inconvenient time for both teams as they are in the middle of tough conference schedules. The Cougars will play Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga back-to-back in the Marriott Center after the game in Blacksburg, Va. The Hokies have Duke and Clemson on their schedule after the game.
“This will be a challenge,” Rose said. “It wasn’t ideal for us, but the conference told us they would help us get through this, so that’s how it came out.”
BYU and Virginia Tech play different styles of basketball. The Cougars are a fast-paced team that looks to take shots earlier in the possession, while the Hokies tend to play slower, taking more time off the shot clock before settling on a shot.
“Their style is really effective, and they’ve been really successful over the years,” Rose said. “They’ll try to control the tempo on offense with multiple passes before they shoot.”
The Cougars enter the game with an intimidating group of players in the post that can score in multiple ways. Senior Noah Hartsock is averaging 17.5 points per game while junior Brandon Davies contributes 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Both forwards also are shooting better than 50 percent from the floor this season.
“Noah can post up and score,” Rose said. “He can also stretch the defense and hit perimeter shots. Brandon’s a low-post guy, but can also hit from 10 to 12 feet. I think you’ve also got to throw Charles Abouo in that mix with those frontline guys. He can post up and shoot threes. All three of them have pretty good diversity in their offensive game, and defensively have been real solid for us.”
Abouo is averaging 11.5 points, while freshman Matt Carlino adds 12.6 per game for the Cougars.
Junior guard Erick Green leads the Hokies with 16.1 points per game, and senior guard Dorenzo Hudson adds 11.7. Freshman forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been consistent in the post this season, averaging 6.2 points, along with 7.5 rebounds per game.
“Their players are very good offensively,” Rose said. “They get underrated because they don’t attempt as many shots as most teams, but it will be a challenge for us to see if we can impose our will upon how they play in their building.”
BYU and Virginia Tech have met only once before, in December 1967. The Cougars won that game 94-67. The game will tip off at 5 p.m., and will be available for viewing on ESPN3.