JUST LIKE FOOTBALL! … clap-clap clap-clap-clap … JUST LIKE FOOTBALL! (I loved hearing that from the Student Section)
I will state the obvious first. This was a much-needed, extremely sweet victory over arch-rival virginia. Who would have thought that Virginia Tech would beat the first-place hoos with only 5 points from Zabian Dowdell? Not this Hokie.
The Hokies cooked up another recipe for success with a quick offensive start and excellent defense. Minus the unc game, Tech typically wins when they get out to the lead early in the ballgame. This game was no different, as after the hoos took their only lead of the game at 2-0, the Hokies ran out to an 11-2 lead. Jamon Gordon led the charge with two early buckets (the second being a 3-ball), and finished the game with 15 points and 4 steals. This was one of the best offensive performances by Gordon in several games as he shot 50% from the floor and did not miss any of his six free throw attempts.
The defense was the story of the game. uva shot horrific from the field in the first half, thanks to the Virginia Tech D. Every shot that uva threw up was contested. J.R. Reynolds did play an impressive game, given how solid Tech played on defense. Reynolds finished with 21 points, and without him in the first half, uva would have been held to below 20 points. The other half of the hoo backcourt did not have as good a performance. Sean Singletary’s first bucket came at the 9:58 mark in the first half. He only had 5 points at halftime, and was virtually a non-factor the whole game. The much hyped backcourt battle between the hoos and Hokies really did not live up to its billing since Zab played less than 4 minutes in the first half (he picked up 2 quick fouls at the 16:07 mark), and then left the game in the second half with just over 14 minutes remaining after picking up his fourth foul. By the time he returned, the Hokies had the game in the bag. Even though Reynolds scored 21, which you have to expect these days, he was 0 for 5 from behind the arc, which you can’t expect. What was even more impressive is how the Hokie D fared against the rest of the hoos. Diane, Cain, and Soroye were all held to 2 points each. Cain didn’t pick up his first basket til midway through the second half! Mikalauskas and Joseph didn’t even score. You can thank Coleman Collins and Cheick Diakite for that. Overall, the hoos shot only 33% from the floor thanks to Virginia Tech’s tenacious man-to-man defense.
On the offensive side, A.D. Vassallo and Deron Washington led the charge with 22 points each. Washington took 16 shots from the field and was 3 of 4 from the line. A.D. continues to shoot the 3-ball well as he was 4 of 6 from the behind the arc, and 7 of 9 from the field. The Hokies shot 57% from the field, and 89.5% from the line (yea, that’s right). 17 of 19 from the line. This is a very good sign heading into March. Nigel Munson looked his best since the unc game, playing some key minutes while Dowdell sat in the first half. Munson looked relaxed and confident handling the ball and handling Sean Singletary on the defensive end. Markus Sailes also did a solid job filling in for Zab in the first half, scoring a quick 4 points when he first entered the game.
The biggest question for me going into this game was whether or not Tech would come out with the energy in the games preceeding n.c. state and bc. As I wrote in my bc recap and Go Hoos used in The Opposing View, â€œWe know the Cassell will be packed and ready to go, but will this team be?â€ The answer was an emphatic HELL YES. Gordon, Vasallo, and my player of the game, Deron Washington, played the entire game with that energy we have been missing since January 28th. Washington recorded his second double-double of the year as he grabbed 10 boards. The Hokies lost the rebounding battle (again), but only by one, 32-31. So, rebounding was a wash and I seem to recall the hoos got some cheapies there at the end of the game.
All in all, this is not what this fan expected, but I am thrilled that my Saturday turned out to be a very relaxing one after hours of nervous excitement leading up to Tip Off. The only bad thing about the game today is that TechHoops.com’s own Daveywoods once again missed a memorable Hokie basketball game for a lame excuse.
Now off to Tobacco Road for a very challenging week ahead.