After a great offensive first half, the Hokies faded in the second half and fell to a lousy georgia tech team in front of a scattering of family, friends, and nerds at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta (the arena, which seats 9,100, had maybe 5,000 people there). The jackets (3-3) won 72-57 over the Hokies (3-3). While gt is just 10-9 on the season, they are 8-2 at home and 3-0 in ACC play at the Thriller Dome. Luckily, the Hokies get a shot at gt in the Cassell. gt is 0-6 on the road this year and 1-18 in ACC road games the last three seasons.
Virginia Tech led 39-36 at the break as both teams were red hot from the floor. Both teams shot over 50% from the floor in the first half. The second half was a different story. The game was close until late – VT trailed 62-57 with 2:30 to go, before the jackets closed the game on a 10-0 run. The Hokies were outscored 36-18 in the second half. It was Tech’s worst second half of the season (previous low for points was 24).
The Hokies’ offense, which looked great in the first half, was a dud in the second. VT scored just 1 point in a 6-minute stretch of the second half and trailed 49-47 at the halfway point of the second half. They scored just 2 points in the final six minutes of the game. Tech hit just 6/25 (24%) in the second half and committed 10 turnovers. Hard to win like that.
This game really exposed Tech’s weaknesses. The Hokies, playing their third game in six days, really had to work hard on offense and defense against the up-tempo jackets who play very aggressive defense. It appeared VT, who basically played just six guys tonight (Jarell Eddie played just one minute), ran out of gas against the physical georgia tech team.
Brian Oliver is a zone killer. He had 32 against syracuse earlier this year, and exploded for 28 points on 11/18 shooting against the Hokies. And they were wide open looks time after time. Oliver either hit uncontested jumpers from the free throw line in the weak spot of the zone, or hit 3-pointers from the right corner.
Iman Shumpert, the jackets leader in scoring, assists, rebounds, and steals, had a huge night. He secured georgia tech’s first triple double since 1989 with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. He added 7 steals for good measure and also held Malcolm Delaney to just 8 points.
Give the yellow jackets and Paul Hewitt credit. I give Hewitt crap for being the second worst coach in the ACC, and he is, but he exploited the Hokies 2-3 zone tonight. In fact, he shredded it. The jackets fed the ball to the free throw line and either hit wide open jumpers there, or fed it down low, or kicked it to the perimeter for a 3-pointer. The jackets also got easy looks when VT went to their 1-3-1 zone trap. Tech had no answer on defense all night and didn’t try to make many adjustments. They started collapsing on the man at the free throw line when he got the ball in the second half at times, but that just left Oliver open in the corner.
The jackets also completely took the Hokies guards out of the game. In the final 29 minutes of action, Delaney and Green combined to score just 6 points! They had 17 combined overall for the game, about half their average over the last 10 games.
The Hokies dominated play in the paint early. Jeff Allen had 12 points at the break and Victor Davila had 10. But thanks to a double technical which game Allen his fourth foul with 10:34 left, the Hokies missed their best player of the night. Jeff finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but the offense went completely stale with him our. Davila tallied just 3 points in the second half and finished with 13.
The jackets also did a much better job on the glass in the second half. They finished with 9 second half offensive rebounds, after getting just 4 in the first half. gt extended many possessions that should have been stops. The wildest was a 30 second stretch with 14:45 to go where the Hokies couldn’t get a rebound and turned it over twice in the backcourt, giving gt four chances to score.
Erick Green’s double digit point streak came to an end at 10, and it is hard to believe that happened. Green had 9 points in the first 7:11 of the game, but did not score in the final 32 minutes. Erick’s rifle’s sights were off tonight – he missed his final 12 shots and finished 3/15 from the floor. Not a good night for the reigning ACC Player of the Week. He also briefly left with a hip or tailbone injury.
Tech’s shooting was horrendous in the second half, but horrible from deep the whole game. The Hokies hit just 1/11 from 3-point range, with Terrell Bell having the lone long ball to tie the game at 52. He had 7 in the game.
Another issue was turnovers. At the half, VT had 8 to 7 for gt. But the Hokies committed 10 in the second half to just 4 by the jackets. Again, I think this had to do with tired legs. The jackets had 12 steals for the game. They led the league coming in with almost 10 per game. Delaney was a turnover machine at the end of the game. He had 8 turnovers and looked like the Malcolm of earlier in the season in the second half. To his credit, he did create 3 dunks in the first half and had 5 assists. But a 5-8 assist to turnover ratio doesn’t cut it.
Manny Atkins couldn’t get open, either. The Microwave had just 2 points off the bench on 2 shots, despite playing almost half the game filling in for Bell, who was in foul trouble.
georgia tech, the ACC’s worst three point shooting team, hit 8/24 from behind the arc. That’s right around their average, but the fact they hit eight to just one by VT hurt the Hokies. Tech compensated for that with a 7-to-0 advantage in made free throws in the first half, but finished with just a 12-10 advantage.
OK, folks. Tough game. But no reason to panic. The Hokies came into this five game stretch starting with maryland knowing they had four of five on the road. 3-2 in that stretch is a success in my book. And the Hokies are 1-1 at this point. They get a 1-4 miami team at home Sunday that they have to beat, then VT just has to figure out how to beat nc state or boston college on the road next week. 5-4 puts Tech in good shape to make a run towards the top four of the ACC this season.
The Hokies play miami at the Cassell at 5:30 PM Sunday.