By LARRY VAUGHT
Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams watched his team win a seventh straight game Saturday when it blasted Maryland Eastern Shore 93-40 but knows what it coming next will be a lot, lot harder.
Virginia Tech (9-1) will play Kentucky in Rupp Arena Saturday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.
Kentucky is coming off a win over Monmouth at Madison Square Garden Saturday. Williams said that Virginia Tech was originally trying to play in that game in New York City. But he knows playing in Rupp Arena could be a boost to his team’s NCAA Tournament resume in March.
“If need be, if a committee member were to look at it and there was some level of separation, there would be someone with some sense that said that we did it,” Williams said about playing in Lexington. “So I called [Kentucky coach John Calipari]. We’re very thankful that [he] agreed to do it.”
Virginia Tech hasn’t played the Wildcats since the 1996 NCAA Tournament – and has never played at Rupp.
“I think it’ll be a great experience,” Williams saiid. “I anticipate a lot of good things to learn from it. I anticipate a lot of things that we haven’t seen thus far that we can learn from.
“I think they’re top 20 in offensive efficiency and top 20 in defensive efficiency, and I would say that they’re one or two in number of first-round picks on their roster. It’ll be good for us. Good or bad, it’ll be good for us.”
Virginia Tech guard Chris Clarke was 7-for-9 from the field, and 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, to score a season-best 18 points in Saturday’s win.
Freshman wing Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 16 points and eight rebounds. His cousin is Kentucky freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They were high school teammates last year in Tennessee.
The Hokies remain the nation’s highest scoring team, averaging 96 points per game. They have scored 90 or more points seven times this season.
Tech made 15 3-pointers in Saturday’s win and has now hit 10 of more 3’s in five games this year. The Hokies have hit at least six 3-pointers in 20 consecutive games.