The Virginia Tech, a 13-point underdog matched up with No. 3 Michigan State in the first round, upended the Spartans 71-66 on Monday evening. The Hokies trailed much of the first half before taking a 32-28 lead into halftime. And in the second half, they led by as many as 10 before staving off a frantic MSU run late to improve to 6-0 on the season.tends to deliver the drama, and drama was indeed delivered in the event's opening day as
The Spartans (3-2) did well to try and dig out of the hole they created for themselves, but they didn't quite play up to the expectations that came with being the preseason No. 1 team in the sport. Part of that was on their best player, Cassius Winston. Not only could he not find a groove -- scoring seven points (his lowest scoring output since his sophomore season in 2017-18) on 2-of-8 shooting and committing more turnovers (three) than assists (two) -- but he was in foul trouble throughout. After getting two quick fouls early, MSU coach Tom Izzo committed Winston to the pine where he sat most of the opening frame. He played just 20 of a possible 40 minute and finished the game with four fouls.
"I've said this for 20 years, upsets happen," Izzo said. "That's no insult to them, but upsets happen. I give a lot of credit to Mike and his team, I thought they played harder than us and better than us. Cassius got in foul trouble, and I'm not sure he ever got back into the rhythm."
With Winston on the bench, Spartans guards Aaron Henry, Rocket Watts and Foster Loyer did their best to keep pace with Virginia Tech's hot scoring, but didn't quite have the juice in the end. Credit the Hokies for playing hard throughout while MSU looked lethargic. They made 10 of their 21 3-point attempts, forced 16 turnovers and got 22 points from freshman Landers Nolley II, validation for one of the unheralded stars of the early season. With Virginia Tech clinging to a one-point lead with under a minute left, it was -- who else? -- Nolley who came up with a huge 3-pointer that put the game out of reach for the Spartans.
"That's a really good player making a big league play," Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. "We thought we could get him behind something. Really good players make really good plays, and that was a really good play. Went a long way in getting us out of here with a significant win."