On Military Appreciation Night, the Hokies unlocked the keydets by a 105-92 margin, marking the first time VT has eclipsed the 100-point mark under second year coach James Johnson (and first time since a 102-77 win over georgia tech in February of 2011). Virginia Tech had five guys hit double figures in points (Eddie 21, Emelogu 19, Barksdale 16, Wilson 13, Smith 11). Tech’s victory was never really in doubt in the second half of this game though it got a bit nerve-wracking down the stretch, with vmi cutting the lead to just 6 with a little over a minute to go. The Hokies handled vmi’s full court press for most of the night, but collapsed under the pressure in the final minutes before getting some easy buckets at the end to ice the game.
The Hokies, who led by 11 at the break, used an 8-0 run 5 minutes into the 2nd half to jump to a 67-47 lead and effectively put the game away (though vmi did make a nice run in the final 7 minutes to cut a 15-point deficit to 6). You have to give the Hokies credit – since falling behind by 17 in the first half to wvu, VT has absolutely dominated the last 5 halves of basketball and now stand at 3-1 headed into their clash with #1 michigan state on Friday in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic semi-finals (VT has won 3 of their last 5 vs #1 teams!).
Virginia Tech had a huge size advantage over the keydets, with 7 guys 6’7″ or taller compared to just one for vmi (and he fouled out with 6 minutes left). Tech took advantage of this with a 52-31 advantage on the boards and a 19-14 advantage in 2nd chance points.
The Hokies jumped out to a 12-6 lead to start the game thanks to 5/8 shooting from the floor. But then Virginia Tech went ice cold, going 1/10 on FGs over the next 6 minutes and vmi, who started the game 0/9 on 3-pointers, took a 13-12 lead on their first made three-pointer.
Tech played better in the final 10 minutes of the half, outscoring vmi 32-20 on 11/19 (58%) shooting, including an 8-1 run to close the half and put VT comfortably up 44-33 at the break. After missing their first 9 threes, vmi made 5/11 which was the only thing that kept them even close. Jarell Eddie finished the half with 12 points. He was 4/4 on 3-pointers and 0/2 on shots from inside a foot (go figure). The Hokies were 6/10 on 3-pointers in the first half. Tech also had 9 assists compared to 6 assists for a very good 1.5 assist to turnover ratio, which is great considering vmi uses a full court press at times along with a half court trap.
Monday’s game marked the first action for junior forward C.J. Barksdale this season, who had been suspended for the first 3 games (Marquis Rankin still elected not to play). Barksdale stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points on 7/12 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
- Jarell Eddie – He was REALLY good, going 5/5 from behind the arc and scoring 21 points along with 7 rebounds (he was just 2/7 on two-point baskets). Eddie is now 10/20 on 3s on the season, meaning Tech has two main guys at 50% or better (remind you of last year?).
- FTs: 22/26 (85%)
- 3s: 11/16 (65% compared to 10/36 – 28% for vmi)
- Barksdale, as noted above.
- Dominating performance on the glass (+21)
- The Hokies outscored the up-tempo keydets in fast break points (12-6)
THE BABY BIRDS:
More great stuff from Tech’s newbies…
- Ben Emelogu – I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – whomever saw this guy play last year and didn’t think he was ACC-caliber is nuts. He has a Big East body for a guard. He can shoot the 3. He can drive and finish. He is going to be a very good player for Tech, possibly a Third Team All-ACC type by his later years. Ben’s 3 with 2:30 left, his 4th on the night, put the nail in the coffin, putting VT up 14. Emelogu is now 11/21 (53%) from 3-point range on the season.
- Devin Wilson – Absolutely great off the dribble and next to impossible to stop with the stiffer hand check/charge calls. Tonight he made a lefty runner (he’s right-handed). Also, as advertised, he’s a pass-first guy who sets up others (setup a dunk for Emelogu with a no-look pass from the top of the key). His downfall is he’s a terrible 3-point shooter so defenders will start to back off him. Devin will have to score in transition. His leapin’ leaner-and-1 with 2:40 left put the game away before fouling out with 80 seconds to go.
- Trevor Thompson – He is eating up a lot of minutes now for Tech and has seemingly surpassed van Zegeren in the rotation. Trevor had 5 blocks tonight along with 4 points and 6 rebounds.
- Adam Smith – also hit double-digits with 11 points on 4/10 shooting.
THING(S) TO WORK ON: One thing I’ve noticed that the Hokies will need to improve upon is they defend perimeter ball screens. Tech’s young guards are going underneath the screener, allowing the man with the ball to step back and shoot a wide open three-pointer. The Tech guard either needs to go over the ball screen with the screener’s defender stepping laterally to stop the penetration, or if the VT guard goes under the screen, the other defender must flash out and force the man with the ball to drift deeper than he wants to and take away the 3 while his defender recovers (JvZ did this nicely in his limited minutes).
Also, VT was outscored 21-3 in points off turnovers (VT had 16 giveaways compared to just 4 for vmi, which is amazing given their up-tempo nature).
ANOTHER THING FOR THE STUDENTS TO WORK ON: The guy that fouls out is going to fake the sit-down! How many times are you going to fall for it?