In front of dozens of fans at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, the colorado state rams blew the Hokies back to Blacksburg in the second half of the Las Vegas Classic Championship Game by nearly a double reverse Bear Fight margin of 88-52. The Hokies trailed by just 6, 33-27, at the break, but the rams starting the 2nd half on a 21-4 lead to make it 54-31 and that was all she wrote. In fact, the rams opened the 2nd half on a 44-12 run to go up 77-39. The only question down the stretch was whether or not csu would double the Hokies (don’t ask what the drink is for that). The Hokies were outscored 55 to 25 in the 2nd half.
The rams won behind 11/24 (46%) 3-point shooting, 19 offensive rebounds, and a 22-6 assist to turnover margin. They also shot 11 more free throws than the Hokies. Erick Green led VT with exactly half of their 52 points (26 for you non-math majors) and Jarell Eddie had 10. No one else had more than 4 for VT, including just 2 for Raines and a goose egg for Robert Brown. Green was 10/21 from the field, the rest of Tech was 9/32 (28%). The rams had 4 players with 15+ points, demonstrating their balance.
I would sit here and call this an embarrassing failure and pitiful effort, but keep in mind a few things. 1) The Hokies were just absolutely gassed. They had nothing left in the tank in the 2nd half and it showed. I don’t want to say VT quit in the 2nd half (because I don’t want to believe it), but they did stop defending and rotating. VT clearly looked tired tonight. They just didn’t have the legs after the short turnaround. I think that made VT slow and they played defense more with their hands than their feet, which leads to fouls. csu was in the bonus by the midway point of the 2nd half. And the Hokies just didn’t have the lift they needed on their shots. 2) The rams are a quality team. They went to the NCAA Tournament last year and were a top 50 RPI team coming into this game. They are coached by Larry Eustachy (if that name rings a bell, it is because he got fired at iowa state for staying behind after road games and partying with coeds from the schools — there’s an infamous shot of him drinking Natural Light with some college kids).
So if you didn’t stay up for this beat down (ah, it reminded me of when I was in the UK and would wake up at 2 AM to watch Hokie games), you didn’t miss much. Be glad you slept.
A few trends have started to emerge during this recent struggle for the Hokies. They are:
- Tech falls way behind in the 1st half. In the previous two games, VT had led a grand total of 38 seconds in the first half combined. Today the Hokies actually led for most of the first 6 minutes, but an 18-4 ram run put csu up 24-14. This marked the 4th time in 5 games VT has trailed by at least 8 points during the first half, and third time they’ve fell behind by double digits. The Hokies have also trailed by 6 or more points at the break in 4 of 5 games.
- Erick Green is the only offense in the first half. The nation’s leading scorer had 11 of Tech’s 25 first half points against bradley, and 14 of their 27 against versus the rams. That’s 48% of their points. No one else had more than 4 at the break against colorado state…
- …It didn’t get any better in the 2nd half. With 9:20 gone in the 2nd half, VT had 9 points. Green had all 9 meaning he had 23 of Tech’s 36. Then Eddie finally hit a 3. No one else PERIOD scored for VT until 5 minutes were left (VT was outscored 44-12 for the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half).
- The Hokies can’t score all of a sudden (largely due to 3-point shooting disappearing). After starting 7-0, VT was averaging 86 ppg. In their last 5, they’ve averaged 66 ppg. Tech had just 2 fast break points in this game.
- Tech can’t create buckets off the pass… Tech had just 1 assist at halftime of the bradley game and finished with just 10 total. Well, VT finished this game with 4 assists TOTAL and 15 turnovers. csu had 22 assists and just 6 turnovers. Green, in addition to his 26 points, had 3 of the 4 assists.
- Jarell Eddie is struggling from deep during this 5 game stretch. Remember when he was shooting over 50% from 3-point range? Well, he’s 8/28 in the last 5 games from behind the arc (29%), and his two made 3s tonight were in garbage time with VT down 20+.
- The Robert Brown we saw early in the year has disappeared over the last week. Brown had just 2 points in Vegas this weekend. He’s just 4/30 from the field (13%) over the last 4 games and has just 10 total points. He was 0/8 from the field on Sunday and 0/2 from the line (including an air ball on a free throw) and was scoreless.
- The Hokies get absolutely dominated on the glass. csu snagged 19 offensive rebounds in the game out of 39 opportunities (almost 50% — 33% is average). Tech has allowed 79 offensive rebounds in their last 5 games.
- James Johnson is getting outcoached right now and has not shown an ability to make in game adjustments, especially on defense. In my opinion, he’s pushing all the wrong buttons. I have no idea what Tech is doing defensively. Well, I do — they are doubling in the post and out by the half court, but I have no idea why. To be fair, they had to double the 6-10 Colton Iverson for the rams, but they drifted out with him and then the rams would kill the Hokies with back cuts and perimeter passing. Or VT would double 25 feet from the basket and csu would throw over them, leading to easy shots or fouls. Or they kicked it to the corner for wide open 3s. Or csu just beat VT off the dribble and would dish when the help defense came. Or we press so they can score even faster. Regardless, it ain’t working. Other teams watch film. They know we always double in the low post. So you actually see their bigs drifting out, knowing the double team will follow, which opens up the paint and forces guards to collapse and help, which either isn’t happening or doesn’t work due to a mismatch.
- The lone bright spot on defense was Joey van Zegeren. He had 4 blocks by my count, all on help defense.
FYI: north florida beat georgia southern by 28 earlier in the day in Vegas. Good thing VT didn’t play them!
Tech returns to action next Saturday, the 29th, at 2 PM on ESPNU against byu in Salt Lake City. Time for me to go to bed.