Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Valparaiso Crusaders Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023

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Virginia Tech is anxious to see more of the December version of MJ Collins and leave the November version behind.

When Virginia Tech (6-3) meets visiting Valparaiso (4-5) in the first-ever meeting of the teams Saturday at Blacksburg, Va., Collins will be on center stage as he tries to build on the best game of his career.

In Virginia Tech’s ACC opener Sunday, Collins made all three of his 3-point attempts on his way to scoring 20 points, while propelling the Hokies to a 75-68 victory over Louisville.

It was a departure from Collins’ performance entering the game. Over the prior seven games, he was just 8 of 43 (18.6 percent) from the floor and missed all 11 of his attempts from 3-point range.

The low point for Collins came as he watched from the bench while nursing an injury in a 73-57 loss at Auburn on Nov. 29, in a game that exposed Virginia Tech’s backcourt depth.

“He was 0-for-November from 3 and it had affected some parts of his game,” said Virginia Tech coach Mike Young, who added that Collins’ breakout against the Cardinals was “huge.”

Against Louisville, Virginia Tech also got 19 points from Lynn Kidd, who paces the team in scoring (15.1) and rebounds (7.4) per game.

It was a busy and challenging November for the Hokies with a schedule that included eight games in a span of 24 days, five of them away from home. Virginia Tech now is amid a run of four games, all at home, over a stretch of 30 days.

“This has been a long haul and we need a chance to reevaluate, catch our breath and get back to playing better ball,” Young said.

Valparaiso has lost three straight games, including the last two on the road, last Saturday at Belmont 77-68 and Wednesday at Central Michigan 71-67.

In both defeats, the Beacons fell behind 9-0 in the opening minutes and never led.

Against Central Michigan, Valparaiso trailed by 22 points with less than 11 minutes left before rallying behind Jaxon Edwards, who made two 3-pointers in the final 4:27.

Isaiah Stafford, the Beacons’ top scorer this year, had 23 points and Kaspar Sepp added six points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Stafford is scoring 18.8 points per game.

“We’ve got to get off to better starts and we can’t have those lapses,” Valparaiso assistant coach Matt Gordon said.

–Field Level Media

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