What many were calling a must win for md, this one was just as important to Tech. md and Tech will probably be fighting for an NCAA bid with other ACC teams at the end of the year, so we needed this one. After a sloppy start, the game was pretty tight for most of the first half. Tech held its biggest lead of the half at 19-14 after a pair of Nigel Munson free throws with 10:02 left. Cheick Diakite was a spark off the bench in the first half as well, sinking a couple key jumpers on the baseline and swatting a few more at the other end. However, md pulled off a run at the end of the half to take the lead until the Hokies took it back at halftime, 34-33.
Aside from a short spurt by md in the beginning of the second half, Tech produced another solid defensive performance that enabled them to turn a 1-point halftime lead into a 8-point lead with 6:56 left after another beautiful reverse layup by Zabian Dowdell (see unc highlights). But, just like the Iowa and UNC games, the opposing team fought their way back into the game. This time the reason was poor execution on the offensive end and below average free throw shooting. What is it about this team when they have the lead in the last 8 minutes of the 2nd half? If Tech makes the Big Dance, this is going to be a problem. And I am not just talking about free throws. Seth said it right at the end of the game … they set offensive production back about 20 years. Check my in-game comments post, but we were 12 for 16 midway through the 2nd half and then finished 4 for 8. This has got to improve.
After md tied it at 59, Jamon Gordon’s jumper from about 18 feet went in … and then out, leaving md with about 11 seconds left to win the game. md decided not to call timeout, and even so, had a couple good looks that they missed. Thank goodness for OT as it enabled Tech to drop the Prevent. After trading baskets, Tech took the lead for good and held on for a 67-64 victory.
Looking at the box score, what jumps out to me is our lack of 3-point production tonight: only 1 for 6. Our field goal shooting overall was only 39.7%, although md was only 35.5%. We committed more turnovers than normal tonight as well, 15. I was really surprised to see their freshman guards steal a couple from Jamon tonight.
The defense was solid as usual, and was the key to victory, IMHO. My player of the game has to be Cheick Diakite. He played 21 minutes off the bench tonight, was 4 of 5 shooting, 1 of 2 from the line, with 4 blocked shots and 3 rebounds. And get this … 0 fouls in 21 minutes. That is the most amazing stat to me, but the refs did let the fellas play tonight. It has been great to see Cheick improve this season.
All in all, a great W for Tech tonight. Hopefully we can steal one at the U on Tuesday night.