Give the hoos credit. They had to do two things to win this game:
- Knock the bottom out of the net from 3-point range. (They hit 11/23, including 8 of their first 12 to build up a 15-point lead at 44-29 early in the second half.)
- Figure out a way to counter the Hokies’ advantage inside. (They doubled down on Davila and Allen every time they touched it, which was rare, and this led to just 16 combined points for Allen and Davila.)
I felt so good about this game until I woke up Saturday morning and saw that the good people in Las Vegas had us at just a 5.5 point favorite. That reminded me of how tough it is to win on the road in this league. The hoos were ready and just burned the Hokies from deep.
I don’t want to say a team was lucky, but the hoos were lucky. Sammy Zeglinski hit 3 3-pointers with less than 5 seconds left on the shot clock. Jontel Evans (who I said couldn’t shoot in the preview) hit 2 miraculous jumpers. Assane Sene (a 7-footer who honest to goodness I hadn’t seen dunk all year) had 7 points and 2 dunks.
I also was drinking a French beer (Kronenbourg 1664 — which is pretty good!) during the game. Could I have jinxed us more? But that shouldn’t matter. Hats off to the hoos. They outplayed us and swept us for the first time since 2005-06 when they beat us THREE times. Is it me or are the hoos the 2006-07 nc state team? A terrible team that beat us three times that year. Let’s hope, if somehow the Hokies do play uva in the ACC Tournament, this doesn’t turn into a 3-peat.
The Hokies did make a game of it. After trailing 28-23 at the break, uva came out bombing 3s to go up 44-29. But then the Hokies went to a full court trap and closed the gap to 45-42 with a 13-1 run with 7:46 to go. VT immediately forced a turnover that led to a 3-point play by Erick Green and several other turnovers and 3-pointers by Delaney fueled the rally. But then the hoos started hitting shots again, and Tech started forcing things and missing open looks (like a missed 3 by Delaney and missed front end of a 1-and-1 by Delaney) and the hoos retook control.
Malcolm Delaney finished with 22, but 6 of those were garbage 3-pointers. However, he was the only Hokie to show up offensively today (and that’s not saying much since he was 6/19 from the floor and 4/12 from 3-point range when the game matter– he was 2/3 from deep late).
The supporting cast was terrible tonight. Jeff Allen was 5/9 from the floor and scored 11 points… but why did he only shoot 9 shots against at team that only has one low post player? Erick Green was 5/11 and had 12 points… but most of that was thanks to the press. And Bell and Davila SUCKED today. They combined for 1 point on 1 shot in the first half, and totaled just 9 points for the game (Bell was 0/2 from the floor after going 5/5 from deep on Tuesday).
For the hoos, it was their 3-point shooting that won the game on offense. They are the best 3-point shooting team in ACC play and they torched VT from deep tonight. Farrakhan hit 3 3s (despite missing the final 10 minutes of the first half with 3 fouls and part of the second half with and injury, Harris hit 4/7 from deep to carry the hoos, and Zeglinski hit those 3 3s he pulled out of his rear end to dagger the Hokies.
This loss really stings. It stings because it was the hoos. It stings because the Hokies could have really taken command of their ACC Tournament First Round bye. It stings because it was the hoos (wait, I said that). But all is not lost. Assuming bc loses at unc today, the Hokies will still be a game up in 4th place with a trip to 1-11 wake forest looming. Tech can still finish strong. Rinse this game… days like this happen… and move on to Tuesday. Don’t let this game beat you twice. The Hokies need to Bear Fight pound the deacons on Tuesday and then get ready for three HUGE games to finish – duke, bc (a contender for 4th) and at clemson (a contender for 4th).
Of note: Jeff Allen extended his double-double streak to 7 straight games with 11 points and 15 rebounds, but I think we can all agree this game was a disappointment considering he had a 6’6″ guard guarding him that couldn’t arm-curl Tattoo… maybe I jinxed him, too. (I don’t believe that for a second.)
Random note: uva is 3-0 against the T/techs of the ACC this year, 1-8 against the rest of the ACC.
FIRST HALF (uva 28, VT 23):
The first half was extremely frustrating to watch as a Hokie fan. Tech committed 8 turnovers in the first 10 minutes (3 each by Bell and Davila). The Hokies cleaned that up and didn’t turn the ball over in the final 10 minutes. But then the hoos looked like they were playing a game of horse, hitting wild shot after wild shot. Zeglinski hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired that he basically shot off the side of his shoulder. Jontel Evans hit a 3-pointer (trust me, that’s news in and of itself – it was just his 5th of the season) and then hit a fadeaway just before the half over Davila to give the hoos a 28-23 halftime lead. Believe it or not, this was actually a lot better than the game in Blacksburg in early December where the hoos led by 12 at the break.
The real story for the hoos was Joe Harris. The freshman sharpshooter knocked 3 3-pointers and had 9 at the break. Tech did not do a good job of staying on him, which you have to do against a 3-point shooting team. The hoos were 6/10 from behind the arc for the half. And that was without their leading scorer, Mustapha Farrakhan, who was on the bench for the final 10 minutes of the half with 3 fouls.
Malcolm Delaney had 10 to lead the Hokies at the break while Jeff Allen tallied 7. Erick Green had 5. Davila and Bell combined for ONE shot and ONE point. Atkins was the only guy to play off the bench and he didn’t score.
The big story was Tech’s poor decisions. They rarely fed the ball inside despite the fact uva only plays one big man. The hoos were doubling down, but that means someone should be wide open. The Hokies weren’t finding that person.
Tech came out in man defense, which I expected, to counter uva’s 3-point ability. But it was when they switched to the 2-3 zone that they really stymied the hoos. That rattled them for a while until they simply couldn’t miss at the end of the half.
Both teams shot 45% from the field but it was uva’s 3-pointers that made the difference.