Virginia Tech shot 48% in the second half and made 19 of 23 free throws after halftime Sunday, as Louisville men’s basketball fell 75-68 on the road in its ACC opener.

The Cardinals (4-4, 0-1 ACC) led by as much as eight in the first half and by one at halftime, but a 16-2 run by the Hokies spanning both halves – including an 8-0 spurt to open the second half – turned the tide.

“They took the fight to us, especially in the second half,” Louisville head coach Kenny Payne said. “They’re a well-coached team, hard-fighting team and hard to beat this team at home. I thought we did a lot of things well, but at critical times I just thought we made mistakes. Especially in the second half, they shoot 48% and made 19 of 23 free throws. To me, that’s the game.”

The Cardinals opened the game on a 10-2 run, capped by five points from redshirt sophomore guard/forward Mike James.

Virginia Tech went on a 9-0 run of its own to take its first lead at 15-14, but Louisville pulled back in front with back-to-back 3s by sophomore guard Skyy Clark and James.

UofL led 29-22 with 3:12 to go in the half after a three-point play by sophomore guard Tre White. The Hokies scored eight of the final 10 points of the frame to cut their deficit to 31-30 at the break.

“Our goal was to come here, get off to a strong start, carry it into the second half and get this win,” James said. “We really wanted this win to open conference play … so we really had a lot of focus on that start.”

Virginia Tech scored the first eight points of the second half, including six from Lynn Kidd.

Freshman guard Ty-Laur Johnson reclaimed the lead for the Cards with a four-point play on a 3-pointer and the foul, and he later gave them their final lead at 48-47 with 10:49 remaining following back-to-back baskets.

The Hokies kept the advantage in the final minutes by exploiting the free-throw line. Junior forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield brought Louisville back within one at 67-66 with two free throws at the 1:58 mark, but the Cardinals never got back on top.

Five Louisville players scored in double figures, led by Clark’s 16 points and three assists.

Huntley-Hatfield had 14 points and nine rebounds, while James added 10 points, nine boards and four assists. Johnson and White also both had 10 points each.

“I want to keep building every single game on both ends of the floor,” Huntley-Hatfield said. “My whole mindset coming into the game from the start is that I want to get 10 rebounds. I want to dominate the boards, bring a lot of energy and physicality. There were a couple of rebounds in this game that I had to have that I missed … but I’m going to correct that. I feel myself getting better, and I know what I’m capable of on the boards. I think I’m going to figure it out with that consistent energy.”

MJ Collins led Virginia Tech (6-3, 1-0) with a career-high 20 points.

The Cardinals stay on the road next weekend with a trip to DePaul at 2 p.m. ET Saturday in Chicago. The game will air on FS1.

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