LEWWWWWWWWWWWWW! WE WANT DEBNAM! The Hokies picked up an absolute must-win on Senior Night in Blacksburg and closed the home season (we hope) at 15-1 by defeating the nc state wolfpack 71-59. The Hokies swept the season series against the pack and have won three in a row over state after dropping six in a row.
There were three keys to the game: nc state turnovers, nc state offensive rebounds, and Hokie points in the paint. VT forced 20 nc state turnovers, limited the pack to 11 offensive rebounds (after grabbing 27 in the first meeting), and Tech scored 34 points in the paint on 16 layups/dunks (state had 22 points in the paint). The Hokies also hit 16 layups/dunks in the first game. That’s 32 layups/dunks in two games against state! Read: Sidney Lowe can’t coach defense. Part of this is the Hokies made much better decisions on the break, not settling for pull-up jumpers when they had numbers.
Tech played an absolutely perfect game in Raleigh except for one thing – they gave up 27 offensive rebounds in the first meeting in 55 opportunities (just a 51% defensive rebounding Percentage). But tonight the Hokies were great on the glass, grabbing 19 of 30 defensive rebounds (63%). And nc state had just three offensive rebounds in the first half.
Turnovers plagued the pack again tonight. They turned the ball over just 15 times (‘just’ is a bit generous, 15 is slightly high). But tonight state had 13 turnovers at the half, including four by point guard Javier Gonzalez. “He’s scored more points for Tech than he has for nc state,” Bill Roth on nc state’s Javier Gonzalez. That pretty much says it all about the nc state point guard.
Malcolm Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson finished with a game-high 21 points. While it was great that Delaney shot 50% for the second game in a row (6/12), the bigger tip of the cap has to go to Zo. He was VERY questionable going into tonight (was seen wearing a protective boot before the game) but scored 21 points on 7/14 shooting and played 37 minutes.
Delaney might as well forget his acting lessons, his ham jobs aren’t working anymore. Refs simply won’t give him the calls they used to give him, or give any other star in the ACC (reference Hansbrough). But he did step up in the second half by knocking down shots. After state cut Tech’s nine-point halftime lead to two with 16:15 to go in the game, Malcolm hit three big treys that pushed the lead to 11 and jump-started an 11-0 run for the Hokies that put the game away. state never got closer than seven after that point. Delaney finished 3/6 on threes. This was just the second time since the florida state game (13 games) that Malcolm had made more than two three-pointers.
Why the Hokies didn’t feed the ball to Jeff Allen on every possession this game I will never know. For the second straight game he stayed out of foul trouble and had a monster game with 18 points on 6/10 shooting. He also chipped in nine rebounds, just missing a double-double.
This game did not have the same recipe for success the game three weeks ago in Raleigh had. In that game, the Hokies hit their first 10 shots on their way to a 26-7 lead in the first nine minutes. Tonight the Hokies trailed 9-7 after nine minutes and had made just three of their first 13 shots (23%). But then the Hokies caught fire again against the porous wolfpack defense. The Hokies closed out the half making 12 of their final 18 shots (67%) and used a 14-2 run to close to half to lead by nine at the break. In comparison, VT led by 11 in Raleigh at the half so it wasn’t much of a difference.
Despite the hot end to the first half, the Hokies still really struggled on threes and free throws. Tech was 0/7 on threes in the first half and just 1/5 from the line (Hudson was 0/3, perhaps because of his foot injury). Speaking of threes, nc state didn’t make a three in the meeting at state but hit a three-pointer with just under eight minutes left in the first half, stopping their three-less streak at 52 minutes against the Hokies. But in the second half the Hokies got back to fundamentals – they hit 3/5 threes (60%) and 19/23 free throws (83%).
Note: It was an odd starting lineup for the Hokies on Senior Night with Allen, Delaney, and Hudson starting, but Witcher and Debnam (Tech’s seniors) also starting.