Lightly regarded Virginia Tech Hokies knock off Michigan State men's basketball team 71-66 at Maui Invitational
By JOHN MARSHALL
AP Basketball Writer
LAHAINA, Hawaii — Landers Nolley II peeled off a screen and, without hesitation, let a 3-pointer fly from the wing. The ball dropped, giving Virginia Tech the cushion it needed to hold off No. 3 Michigan State.
One big shot, one massive victory for the Hokies.
Nolley hit that crucial 3-pointer in the final minute and scored 22 points, helping Virginia Tech outlast the Spartans 71-66 at the Maui Invitational on Monday.
“They believed in me,” Nolley said. “And I hit the shot.”
Virginia Tech (6-0) had low expectations — at least outside the program — in coach Mike Young’s first season in Blacksburg, picked to finish 14th in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll.
The Hokies grinded through a back-and-forth second half before going up 10 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Michigan State fought back to pull within one, but Nolley responded with a 3 for a 68-64 lead with 47 seconds left.
Virginia Tech made just enough free throws down the stretch to earn a spot in today’s semifinal against Dayton.
“That’s a really good player making a big-league play,” Young said. “It probably went a long way in getting us out of here with a win.”
Michigan State (3-2) trailed 32-28 at halftime after preseason All-American Cassius Winston was limited to eight minutes due to two fouls.
Winston helped sparked a late run, but the Spartans couldn’t finish it off. Aaron Henry led Michigan State with 18 points and Winston was held to seven on 2-of-8 shooting.
Michigan State has had a rough start to the season. The preseason AP No. 1, the Spartans lost starting guard Joshua Langford to a foot injury before the first game, and a week later, Winston’s brother, Zachary, was hit and killed by a train.
“He was a shell of himself today,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of Winston.