Virginia Tech aims to work out kinks vs. Minnesota

While Virginia Tech is trying to locate its shot from 3-point range, Minnesota is working to incorporate its best player in Jamison Battle.

The Hokies (6-1) and the Golden Gophers (4-2) both hope to iron out issues on Monday when they meet in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Blacksburg, Va.

Virginia Tech will host North Carolina in its ACC opener on Dec. 4, while Minnesota will travel to Purdue for its first Big Ten game on the same day.

Neither team enters Monday's clash in top form.

After rolling to impressive wins in its first five games, Virginia Tech has struggled in its last two. The Hokies dropped a 77-75 decision to College of Charleston on Nov. 20 and squeaked past Charleston Southern 69-64 on Friday night.

As for Minnesota, it had to work overtime to escape California Baptist, 62-61 on Nov. 21 before falling in the SoCal Challenge title game to UNLV, 71-62.

Minnesota welcomed back Battle, last year's top scorer and rebounder who missed the Gophers' first four games after undergoing foot surgery on Oct. 28. His return was hardly seamless as he made just 9 of 32 shots in the two games.

Meshing in the frontcourt with 6-foot-11 Dawson Garcia, the team's top scorer at 15.8 points per game, will take some work.

A positive in the final was the play of freshman Braeden Carrington, who established personal highs with 15 points and eight rebounds.

"Braeden has had a high IQ, which is one of the reasons we really wanted him," coach Ben Johnson said. "Watching him in high school, he always understood how to play."

Virginia Tech looks to remedy its long-distance shooting woes. After hitting 35 of 78 (44.9 percent) attempts from beyond the arc in their first three games, all decisive wins at home, the Hokies have made only 15 of 67 (22.4 percent) in their last three outings.

Justyn Mutts saved Virginia Tech against Charleston Southern, delivering seven of his 17 points in the final 4:10 to go along with his nine rebounds and five assists.

Reserve Lynn Kidd made a bid for more playing time, collecting a career-high 11 points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes.

"The basketball gods smile on you when you put in the work," Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. "Lynn Kidd's an active, athletic man."

--Field Level Media


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