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Hokies unable to slow down M.J. Walker's Virginia homecoming

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USA Today Sports

Hokies unable to slow down M.J. Walker's Virginia homecoming

BLACKSBURG, Va.  -- M.J. Walker somehow managed to secure 18 tickets out of Florida State's visiting-team allotment to take care of various family members who live in Virginia and wanted to come to Saturday's Florida State-Virginia Tech game.

He also gave them a performance worth remembering.

Walker scored a career-high 24 points to lead the Seminoles to a 91-82 victory over the Hokies on Saturday.

Playing in front of numerous family members from Petersburg, Virginia, and other parts of the commonwealth, Walker came off the bench to hit 8 of 13 from the floor, including four 3-pointers to lift the Seminoles (14-5, 3-4 ACC) to their first league road win of the season.

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"They gave me some energy," Walker said. "I was definitely looking forward to seeing them, but I stayed locked in. I was happy that they came, but I just stayed locked in and continued to play my game."

Braian Angola added 14 points for the Seminoles, who had lost three of their past four games since upsetting North Carolina in Tallahassee on Jan. 3. Terance Mann finished with 12.

Justin Robinson paced the Hokies (13-6, 2-4) with 26 points. Virginia Tech has now lost three straight to Florida State.

The Seminoles led the entire second half. Walker -- a freshman who considered Virginia Tech during the recruiting process -- gave Florida State its biggest lead when he scored on three straight possessions. His jumper with 11:57 remaining capped his spurt and gave the Seminoles a 61-47 lead.

"He's had several good games for us this year, so it's not unlike him to be able to do that," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Walker. "I just think today was one of those days where he was focused. The last couple of games that he's played, he hasn't been as quite as consistent as he had been."

Walker later made the biggest play of the game when he made a steal and laid the ball in with 57 seconds left to push Florida State's lead to 79-70. The Seminoles made 12 of 14 free throws in the final minute to seal it.

For the Hokies, the loss was bittersweet. They shot better than 49 percent for the second straight game and hit 10 3-pointers, but came up short again.

"Our 13 turnovers led to 20 points," Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. "That's hard. Obviously, they shoot a high percentage (53.4 percent). Any team does on live-ball turnovers. In the halfcourt, we need to do a better job -- I would be at the front of the list -- and figure out whatever that is to get more consecutive stops."

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BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles possess the depth and length to compete with anyone, but need to shoot well to give themselves a chance to win. They had shot just 27.4 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in their previous four games, but heated up against Virginia Tech, connecting on 9 of 20.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have now lost two home games in ACC play, and their path to a potential NCAA Tournament bid doesn't get any easier, as they face No. 15 North Carolina on Monday. They will have to pull off some upsets in their final 12 games to get back in the at-large picture for a second straight season.

KOUMADJE A DIFFERENCE

Florida State shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the first time since beating Southern Miss on Dec. 21 -- a span of six games. The Seminoles shot 53.4 percent (31 of 58) against the Hokies, and Hamilton attributed much of that to 7-foot-4 center Christ Koumadje, who played in just his fifth game since missing 11 games with a foot injury. Koumadje, who made 5 of 6 and scored 10 points in just 15 minutes, is now shooting 63.6 percent from the floor since his return.

"We've been a little cold the last couple of games in terms of shooting the ball from the perimeter," Hamilton said. "I thought we would be a good perimeter-shooting team.

"Where we've been mostly challenged, we didn't have Christ Koumadje, so we didn't have an experienced interior game. Today, Christ being out there gave us a presence offensively and defensively that was welcome."

TECH'S TURNOVERS TOO MUCH

Virginia Tech has made taking care of the ball a point of emphasis in recent practices. Players run on a treadmill for 30 seconds after each turnover committed, and the Hokies' 13 turnovers were fewer than the 19 that they committed in their previous game -- a loss at Louisville on Jan. 13. But that's still too many for Williams, who saw his team commit at least 12 turnovers for the fourth time in six ACC games.

"We have made it more of a priority," he said of taking care of the ball. "What I'm trying to do is figure out how to help them because what I'm doing is not good enough to put them in the right position . The evidence and the stats show that we know what our issues are, and that's what we've got to change."

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

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Georgetown gets a boost with Jessie Govan returning to school

After testing the NBA Draft waters, Georgetown center Jessie Govan decided to return to the Hoyas for his senior season.

Govan announced his intention to return on Instagram a week before the final commitment deadline.

Returning to the Hoyas is definitely a boost to the program that will be in their second year under head coach Patrick Ewing.  At 6-10, Govan was the team’s leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and rebounder (10.0 rpg) averaging a double-double last season.

Paired alongside power forward Marcus Derrickson, the Hoyas were nearly unstoppable in the paint. Derrickson though decided to forgo his senior year and signed with an agent after the season.

Had Govan decided to leave that would have meant over 56 percent of the team’s scoring and rebounding would have departed (to graduation or professional pursuits) in a handful of months. Not the best outlook for a 15-win team that went 5-13 in the Big East.

Instead Ewing gets back his leading scorer that many believe he can mold as a young protégée. While in the draft process without an agent Govan had workouts with the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Both are valuable experiences that he will bring to a relatively young Georgetown squad.

Having Govan for one more year will bridge Ewing’s second season to transfer big-man, Omer Yurtseven to his first year of eligibility in 2019. They were set up to having a walk-on and two sophomores being the only returning Hoyas over 6-6 for the upcoming season.

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.