BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young had a logical reason for starting Nahiem Alleyne on Friday against Coppin State.
“I inserted him in the lineup because of his defense,” Young said.
On Friday night, Alleyne’s offense certainly stood out.
Alleyne got the start in his second collegiate game and scored 18 points to lead the Hokies to a 74-42 victory over the Eagles.
Coming off a 11-point outing off the bench in his collegiate debut Tuesday in a season-opening win at Clemson, the freshman hit 6 of 8 from the floor, including four 3-pointers. He led a balanced attack for the Hokies (2-0), who gave Young his first home victory as the Hokies’ head coach.
Landers Nolley II scored 11 points for Virginia Tech, while Tyrece Radford added 10.
Alleyne hit his first two shots – a 3-pointer and a wing jumper – helping the Hokies blitz Coppin State (0-2) from the start. Tech built a 27-3 lead in the first 12:15 of the game, hitting four 3-pointers in the first three minutes.
“He’s a great player,” Tech point guard Wabissa Bede said of Alleyne. “He’s confident, and we’re feeding it to him. I’m telling him he’s great for a reason. I keep putting that in his head and now he’s starting to believe it. He’s showing it now, and I’m so happy for him.”
“We thought, as a staff, he was the best we had on the floor in terms of being responsible on Tuesday,” Young said. “I inserted Nahiem in there, and he responded. His defense was again very, very good. He’s where he’s supposed to be and doing a great job. And getting four 3’s down was a joy to see.”
The Hokies came out with energy on the defensive end as well, forcing Coppin State into a miserable shooting first half. The Eagles made just one of their first 20 shots and missed 17 straight at one stretch. They finished with only four made field goals in the first half.
They weren’t much better in the second half, hitting just 10 shots. The Eagles shot just 19.7 percent (14 of 71), and they turned it over 16 times.
“We didn’t see the jersey as Coppin State,” Bede said. “We just saw five dudes out there. We didn’t try to judge anybody. We knew they were a great team. We knew they were a high-level team that could shoot the 3 very well . They could come in here and make 20 3’s. You never know guys. They’re a team that’s going to shoot 40 3’s. We came at them with high hands and made them take contested shots.”
Andrew Robinson led Coppin State with 15 points.
Coppin State: Picked to finish seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason poll, the Eagles need to find an identity on offense if they want to enjoy any success this season. Better shot selection going forward would help, particularly as they get ready to play 12 of their next 13 games on the road.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies weren’t expected to be as good of a 3-point shooting team as last year’s squad that averaged 9.3 3-pointers per game, but Tech has hit at least nine 3-pointers in its first two games. They finished with 11 3’s against Coppin State, with six different players hitting at least one.
YOUNG WINS HOME DEBUT
Young was hired in the spring to replace Buzz Williams, who left for Texas A&M, as the Hokies’ head coach, and the move enabled Young, who had served as Wofford’s head coach for the past 17 seasons, to return to his roots. He grew up in Radford, Virginia — a roughly 15-minute drive from Virginia Tech’s campus — and often came to Cassell Coliseum as a kid to watch games.
Tuesday night, he won his 300th game as a head coach. But Friday night’s victory meant a little more.
“It was great,” Young said “I walk through that building in the summer and think about coaching the Virginia Tech basketball team, and for that to come true in here, that was great. I’ve told you, I can’t express how happy I am to have the opportunity. It’s awesome.”
Coppin State: The Eagles play at Loyola University Chicago on Tuesday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies play at home against USC Upstate on Wednesday.