Do you believe in miracles? Yes! The Hokies overcame a 17-point first half deficit to knock off their old rivals, the wvu mountaineers, 87-82 at the Cassell in a 1 PM Tuesday game (part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon). The Hokies hadn’t beaten wvu in 10 years (they had only played them once, last year, in that stretch), so I think tonight calls for some 10-year-old Macallan’s VICTORY SCOTCH!
In a game that took almost 2-1/2 hours and probably burned well past your DVR times for those of you that didn’t play hookey, it didn’t look good for the home squad for most of the first half. wvu used a 10-0 run midway through the opening stanza to go ahead 26-10. The mountaineers kept the lead around there for a good stretch and led 40-24 with 2:40 left in the first half. But that’s when the transformation occurred…
The Hokies closed the first half on a 12-1 run capped by a Ben Emelogu 3-pointer from NBA-range on the run at the buzzer to cut the lead to 41-36. The Hokies followed that up with a 13-1 run to open the second half (that’s a 25-2 run overall if you can’t find your calculator) and go ahead 49-42. Tech would stretch that lead to as much as 10, leading 55-45 with 14 minutes to go.
wvu battled back, taking the lead twice down the stretch, including 77-76 with 2:30 to go. But unlike Saturday, where VT could muster just 1 point in the final 4 minutes, Tech was able to close things out. The play of the game was a running bank-and-1 for Adam Smith to put VT up 83-79 with 33 seconds left. After a 3 by wvu to cut the lead to 1, VT hit 4/4 FTs down the stretch and won 87-82.
Lots of positives to take from this game:
- Ben Emelogu looks like he will be a player. The freshman captain had 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. None of his 6 FTs touched the rim (granted, one was an airball, but the others looked good).
- Ben’s now 5/9 on 3-pointers on the season. By contrast, it took Marshall Wood until game #10 to hit his 5th 3-pointer last year (he was 5/28 at that point).
- At 6’5″, Ben already has an ACC-body. He is thick to go with his length. He reminds me of a slightly taller Jamon Gordon (6’3″).
- Whomever said Ben wasn’t an ACC-caliber player is wrong. I know it is just 2 games and he will struggle at times this year, but in a year or two he is going to be a really solid player. Maybe not All-ACC, but a tough defender and a guy who can score off the dribble, something VT sorely needs.
- VT won despite just 10 combined points from Raines, Wood, and JvZ. A positive in the post was 7 points and 3 blocks and 5 rebounds from freshman Trevor Thompson.
- Tech had a block party – swatting 13 shots today. They are really active inside which is fun to watch.
- VT won despite Jarell Eddie not scoring in the first half (he had just one shot) and not hitting a 3-pointer. He did tally 10 in the 2nd half, though.
- VT got 19 points from transfer Adam Smith on 7/12 shooting. He looked much better off the dribble today, able to finish inside.
- The Hokies got 16 points from starting freshman point guard Devin Wilson, including 8/8 from the foul line.
- All told, Tech got 64 points from their 4 newcomers (freshmen Emelogu, Wilson, and Thompson and sophomore transfer Smith). They got just 23 points from their 5 returning players (Eddie, Raines, Wood, van Zegeren, and Beyer – only one guy had more than 4).
- Speaking of which, VT hit 30/38 FTs (79%). With the more stringent hand-checking calls this year, you have to hit FTs to win and Tech did today. For the game, there were 53 fouls called and 71 foul shots!!! (wvu hit just 21/33 – 64% – there’s your difference like it was in the other way for VT Saturday). The 28 fouls on wvu had Coach Huggy-Bear complaining almost as much as Coach London on the sidelines.
- Tech pushed the ball more today. Sure, it means bad shots at times, but this team has some guys that score off the dribble (Emelogu, Wilson, Smith, and at times Eddie). VT had 12 fastbreak points today compared to just 5 on Saturday. Coach JJ has said he wants to be up-tempo, and he got the guys to do more of that today and you saw the results – more easy buckets and lots of free throws.
- Last but not least, VT won! We may not get to say that much this year, but what a character win for the Hokies! Hats off to JJ (who I have been, and will be critical of) for finding a way to rally the troops today from off the mat.
I’ll save my gripes for another day because this was a sweet win over an old rival. Gotta love beating the ‘neers! It’s just one win and sure, wvu was just 13-19 last year and returned just 5 scholarship players, but it isn’t like we were returning a 6-pack of McDonald’s All-Americans (VT had just 4 returning scholarship players playing today)! Congrats to the boys, too bad practically no one saw it.
Now let’s go beat western carolina on Friday night at 7 PM at the Cassell and maryland in Lane on Saturday!