Redshirt freshman Landers Nolley II scored 30 points in his collegiate debut as Virginia Tech knocked off Clemson 67-60 Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C.
The game was the season opener for both teams as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference debut for first-year Virginia Tech coach Mike Young.
The game was tied at 57-57 with 1:03 remaining, but the Hokies closed the game on a 10-3 run, converting 6 of 7 free throws in the final minute to keep Clemson at bay.
Nolley, a 6-foot-7 swing player from Atlanta, starred from the get-go. He made 12 of 23 shots from the floor, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
Fellow freshman Nyhiem Alleyne added 11 points for the Hokies.
Both Clemson and Virginia Tech are in rebuilding modes after each team lost four of five starters off last season’s squads. Clemson was picked to finish 11th in the 15-team ACC in the preseason poll while Virginia Tech was projected to finish 14th.
Clemson jumped out to an 11-3 lead before a 15-4 run by Virginia Tech gave the Hokies an 18-15 lead midway through the first half. The Tigers’ Tevin Mack, a graduate transfer from Alabama, soon made consecutive 3-pointers to put Clemson back in front, 26-22.
Clemson led 37-34 at halftime. Nolley had 18 points to keep the Hokies close while freshman Al-Amir Dawes had nine points and junior Aamir Simms 11 rebounds for Clemson.
Clemson led 50-49 with 6:21 remaining, but Alleyne made two free throws with 5:53 left and the Hokies never trailed again.
Simms, Clemson’s lone returning starter off last season’s 20-14 team, had 12 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore guard John Newman III paced the Tigers with 15 points while Dawes had 11.
Young replaced Buzz Williams, who left Virginia Tech last April to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M.
Young, a Virginia native, spent the previous 17 seasons at Wofford College in nearby Spartanburg, S.C., where he led the Terriers to the program’s first NCAA Tournament victory last March.
—Field Level Media