Virginia Tech’s top-ranked offense set to challenge UK


Freshman guard Hamidou Diallo (3), freshman forward PJ Washington (25), Freshman forward Kevin Knox (5) and sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (1) go in after Harvard’s free-throw during the game against Harvard on Saturday, December 2, 2017 in Lexington , Kentucky. Kentucky defeated Harvard 79-70. Photo By Genna Melendez | Staff

Abbie Long

The UK men’s basketball team will face the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Rupp. UK is coming off a 93-76 win against Monmouth last Saturday; meanwhile, Virginia Tech beat Maryland-Eastern 93-40 last Sunday.

This is the first time the Cats and the Hokies have met since the 1996 NCAA Tournament. The Hokies have previously played twice in Lexington, but this will be their first time playing in Rupp Arena.

Virginia Tech (9-1) is currently ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring offense. The Hokies are averaging 96.2 points per game, and they are also sitting in the No. 1 spot in field goal percentage with 55.3.

The Hokies’ guard play has been fierce thus far this season. Senior guard Justin Bibbs is leading the team with 17.5 points per game, while shooting 47.6 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Junior guard Ahmed Hill is averaging 16.6 points per game and is shooting 50 percent from three.

During their 93-40 win against Maryland-Eastern, the Hokies were led by junior forward Chris Clarke’s 18 points, his season best.

They also rank No. 4 in assists per game with 19.9 and 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.543.

Saturday’s game against the Cats will be Virginia Tech’s first high-level competition game of the 2017-2018 season. Seven of the Hokies’ 10 opponents this season currently have a record of sub .500.

UK does have two advantages over the Hokies, however, one being the home-court advantage for Saturday’s game and the other being experience. No, not age wise, but the Cats have already been tested by a good Kansas team earlier in the season. The Hokies have not played a top 25 team yet this season.

The Cats are currently being led by freshman forward Kevin Knox, who is averaging 15.2 points per game, and freshman guard Hamidou Diallo with 14.7 points per game. Diallo is coming off a season-high 23 points against Monmouth last Saturday.

Tip-off for the Hokies versus the Cats is set for 2 p.m. at Rupp Arena. The game will also be aired on ESPN2.