LAHAINA, Hawaii — Landers Nolley II hit a big three-pointer in the final minute and scored 22 points, helping Virginia Tech hold off No. 3 Michigan State 71-66 at the Maui Invitational on Monday.
The teams grinded through a back-and-forth second half. The Hokies (6-0)—projected 14th out of 15 Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the league’s preseason poll—went up 10 with 4 ½ minutes left before Michigan State fought back within one.
Nolley responded with a three for a 68-64 lead with 47 seconds left, and Virginia Tech made enough free throws down the stretch to earn the marquee win in coach Mike Young’s first season.
Virginia Tech will face Dayton in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Michigan State (3-2) trailed 32-28 at halftime after preseason All-American Cassius Winston was limited to eight minutes due to two fouls.
Aaron Henry had 18 points for the game and Winston was held to seven on 2-of-8 shooting for the Spartans.
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.
Michigan State lost its opening game to No. 9 Kentucky, but bounced back with three straight wins, including a hard-fought victory at No. 13 Seton Hall.
Virginia Tech started the season 5-0 for the second straight season — a first since 1981-82 — but has a revamped roster under Young, who took over after Buzz Williams left for Texas A&M.
The new-look Hokies made a school-record 21 3-pointers against Delaware State in their previous game but had to play a more grinding style against the gritty Spartans.
Taking advantage of Winston’s foul trouble, Virginia Tech pressured the Spartans into numerous mistakes, scoring 12 points off 11 turnovers before halftime.
Virginia Tech picked up the kind of determined, resume-building win that could look awfully good when Selection Sunday comes around.
Winston was not able to conjure up any magic and the Spartans clearly have some flaws to work out until Langford returns in January at the earliest.
Virginia Tech plays Dayton in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Michigan State faces Georgia.