The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team won their first championship of any kind in 12 1/2 years by defeating st. john’s on their own secondary home court to win the Aeropostale Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden (the “world’s most famous arena”). This is huge, plain and simple. Sure, no one cares about this tournament, but this is a young, inexperienced Baby Hokie team and winning a title of any kind helps lay a foundation to grow on. Plus, this was a pseudo road win (unofficially), even if only 2,000 people were actually at the game (attendance was listed at 6,800 but… there weren’t anywhere near that many fannies in the seats even if you counted each butt cheek). This win was a big building block for this team.
Tech led by eight with 90 seconds to go (deja vu???) and let st. john’s within three before putting the game away. Although a lead of eight in this game was like a three touchdown lead in football.
st. john’s did not make a single field goal in the first 10 minutes of the second half and scored just 2 points during that span. They also made only one field goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Cheick Diakite was the Player of the Game with 7 blocks in the game. He looked like a hockey goalie the way he was keeping anything from going in.
A.D. Vassallo was named the MVP of the tournament, scoring 33 points combined to lead the Hokies. He was the only Hokie who showed up offensively for the Hokies on Saturday. A.D. hit several clutch shots for the offensively challenged Hokies in the championship game. He was just 5/12 from the floor but hit a couple of big three’s and runners to help Tech get and keep the lead.
The story of the game on Saturday was defense. Both teams wilted to the pressure in the first half and turned the ball over 11 teams. The two teams combined for just 43 total points in the first half.
The second half wasn’t much prettier. VT made just nine field goals in each half, but that was way better than the five the red storm could barely muster in the second half. The red storm stayed in the game with 14/18 on free throws in the second half. Tech hit 13/19 free throws in the second half and 15/22 for the game. Tech has now hit 68 free throws in their last three games.
Jeff Allen spent most of the game in foul trouble. He played just 18 minutes, yet had 8 points, 3 awesome assists that led to dunks, and 3 steals. st. john’s clearly targeted him with some flops and the referees, that were terrible and called nothing early on, were more than willing to call fouls on Agent Zero. Jeff may have to get used to this until he gets more of a rep. The refs swallowed their whistles in the first half and let the teams play by prison rules, detailed by the fact there was not a single foul shot until the final five seconds of the first half.
Tech, which had done a good job of protecting/passing the ball recently, had just 8 assists and 20 turnovers in the game. st. john’s plays a very tough, physical defense that gets all up in your mug, and the Hokies seemed intimidated by it. They better get used to it or expect some double-digit blow outs against ACC teams that can actually score.
The victory was secured by Tech’s defense, largely due to Cheick Diakite. st. john’s missed their first 12 shots of the second half and hit just 19% in the second half and 28% for the game. Amazingly, that’s only the third lowest shooting percentage of the season against Tech (unc-g and gwu were worse).
Tech has a very good defensive team. But they did allow 14 offensive rebounds in the contest. The storm out-muscled the Hokies at times.
I would write the rest of this recap but I’m off to have a Bear Fight (it’s a drink… please don’t call in the Feds on me)Â in celebration of something that hasn’t happened since my Freshman year… a championship!!!
NOTE: This is the lowest point total Tech has had in a win since defeating western carolina 54-40 in November 2005. Also, this is the second time VT has scored in the 50s and won this year (liberty was the other).
Starters: Allen, Witcher, Washington, Vassallo, and Delaney got the nods for Tech.Â This was Delaney’s second straight starting assignment and Witcher’s second on the year.Â Allen, Washington, and Vassallo have started every game.
Stat of the Day: VT has allowed just 49.4 points in their eight wins, yet 76.2 in their five losses.
The Magic of 65: Tech is undefeated when holding teams under 65, and winless when giving up over 65.
To say I just watched the worst half of basketball I’ve ever seen would be an understatement. VT, which had suddenly found its offensive rhythm in its last two games averaging 79.5 points, probably had as many turnovers in the first half as they had points.
Allen played just 9 minutes, picking up two cheap fouls. One was on an illegal screen and another was on a cheap call where the penetrating red storm player threw himself into Allen.
VT really struggled with the suffocating full court D of the red storm. They could not set up their offense.
BTW: st. john’s is really bad. If they had any talent on offense, they would be up 20. I think VT will pull this out in the second half once they get used to the defense.