A win is a win is a win. The Hokies struggled to beat a very bad iowa hawkeye team, but, they did beat them. The Hokies moved to 5-1 on the season, well on their way to the 12-2 out of conference record I said they must attain to keep any March NCAA Tournament dreams alive. Malcolm Delaney led the Hokies in points (stop the presses) with 18. But the big story was the supporting cast tonight: Terrell Bell added a career high 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting, Victor Davila added 10, and Ben Boggs hit two big three-pointers early in the game to help the Hokies secure a 70-64 win.
Delaney had a typical 2009 evening – scored points but struggled to hit shots. He hit just 1 of 7 from behind the arc and was 5 of 15 from the field, though hitting 4 of 8 two-point shots is actually an improvement for him. Delaney is now shooting just 38% from the field on the year and 30% on threes, but that has been good enough to lead Tech to a 5-1 start. His 86% from the line has certainly helped in key situations at the end.
Jeff Allen, who did not start either half tonight, did add 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Greenberg benched him at the beginning of each half. The upside of this was he didn’t pick up his seemingly mandatory foul in the first two minutes of a half. J.T. Thompson started in his place and scored 8 points, but grabbed just 1 rebound.
The Hokies fell behind early in this contest. iowa went up by an 11-3 score but VT used a 10-2 run to tie the game and then a 17-2 run to take a 10 point lead later in the first half. Tech led by 6 at the half, 34-28.
After Tech took the lead with 6:57 left in the first half they led until the 6:27 mark of the second stanza. After iowa went ahead 54-53, the Hokies went on a quick 8-0 run to take a 7 point lead and never looked back. The hawkeyes never made it a one possession game after that point.
The Hokies still have a lot of issues on offense. They resemble a NBA team (that can’t shoot). Their possessions involve one of the following: a three-pointer that only goes in 29% of the time, a feed into the post that usually works out pretty well, or a wild jumper that is missed. Tech has shown no ability to be able to drive and kick – either to an open post player for an easy layup or dunk, or to an open shooter on the perimeter (who probably wouldn’t make the three anyway). This team is clearly still adjusting to the new motion offense Seth put in. Sadly, this is the second highest point total VT has put up in regulation this season behind the 71 they scored on campbell. We keep waiting for someone to break out as the supporting cast to Delaney and Allen but so far no one has consistently done that.
Dorenzo Hudson continues to hit any jumpers, though he did hit a clutch three-pointer from behind NBA range with the shot clock running down late in the game that put the Hokies up 7 and put the game away. But he is just 3 of 15 (20%) on threes on the season and 5 of 14 (36%) on free throws. He has been the biggest disappointment to date. Perhaps Ben Boggs, who played 15 minutes tonight and was 2 of 3 from the floor, will continue to see more time in Zo’s place. Both of Boggs’s three-pointers were catch-and-shoots coming off screens and his stroke looked fantastic. He has really improved his shooting from the outside from when he was in high school.
The only reason iowa, an offensively challenged team that averaged just 59 points per game and 27% on threes, stayed in this game was the long ball. This is a team that has no ability to push the ball or penetrate and score at all. But they hit 12 of 27 (44%) threes for the game. That accounted for 36 of their 64 points. They didn’t shoot a free throw until 3 and 1/2 minutes into the second half and shot just 10 for the game. The hawkeyes were led by sophomore Anthony Tucker who scored a season high 24 points, including 6 three-pointers. He had averaged 8.8 ppg coming in but torched the Hokies from deep. Leading scorer Matt Gatens did not score in the first half and was held to 6 points, more than 5 below his average.
The Hokies came out shooting their usual lousy self from the floor but then started pounding the ball inside against the unathletic hawkeyes. Tech finished the game shooting 47% from the field, their highest output on the young season.
Another reason for the win was Virginia Tech protected the ball. The Hokies committed just 5 turnovers in the game, compared to 11 by iowa. Tech turned that into a 16-2 edge in points off turnovers against the slower hawkeyes, who were unable to get any fastbreak points. The Hokies now have a 114-40 edge in points off turnovers on the season, the main reason they are 5-1.
Notes: The ACC tied up the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge at 3 with VT’s win. The Big(11)Ten jumped out to a 3-0 start but lost the md/indiana, msu/unc, and VT/iowa games. The road team is 4-2 in the challenge so far. The ACC has won in the prior 10 challenges. There are 5 games left in the challenge, each of which will be played tomorrow. Tech is now 2-3 in the ACC/Big(11)Ten Challenge with both wins coming against iowa. iowa is just 2-7 in the challenge. No Big(11)Ten team has a winning record in the event.