Categorized | 2013-14, Game Recaps

HOKIES 61 (1-0, 7-3), miami 60 (0-1, 5-5) – OT

Boxscore

THE VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES, PICKED TO FINISH DEAD LAST IN THE ACC, ARE ALONE IN FIRST PLACE!!! Sure, this was the first ACC league game of the season of any team, but let’s enjoy the moment while we can!  The Hokies snapped their 6-game ACC Opener losing streak, winning on the road in 82-degree Coral Gables, FL, 61-60 in overtime.  And Coach James Johnson beat Coach Larranaga of miami, whom JJ used to work for at george mason (that’s gotta feel good for JJ).  Tech moves to 7-3 on the season (4 straight wins) while the c-a-n-e-s canes fell to 5-5.  This was Virginia Tech’s first ever win in an ACC Opener on the road (Tech is now 2-8 all time in ACC Openers).

Tech showed tremendous composure given their youth and the fact they were in a road arena for the first time.  The Hokies trailed by 13 with 15 minutes to go in regulation, and 10 with 4 minutes to go.  Trailing 55-45 with 4 minutes on the clock, Jarell Eddie scored Tech’s final 11 points of regulation and helped Tech tie the game at 56.  Unfortunately, his shot with 2 seconds to go was blocked that could have won the game in regulation.  An alley-oop to Joey van Zegeren with 0.3 seconds left was caught and banked in by JvZ… but you can’t catch and shoot the ball with 0.3 left, you can only tip it so the officials waved the shot off and the game went to overtime.

Jarell Eddie was once again the star of the game with 24 points (coming off a career high 34 earlier in the week).  His left-baseline fadeaway with 19 seconds left in overtime put the Hokies ahead 61-59.  miami’s Garrius Adams got fouled with 7 seconds left but could make just 1 of 2 free throws.  On the rebound, Tech nearly lost the ball out of bounds and Joey van Zegeren made a critical mistake, saving the ball into the hands of Donnavan Kirk.  But Kirk was too far under the hoop and his shot hit the basket support, giving the ball back to the Hokies with 2 seconds left.  VT was able to salt away the rest of the clock and capture the win in their first road game of the season.

It was a tale of three Eddies in this game.  In the first 10 minutes of the game, Jarell hit 3 three-pointers.  Then he scored just 2 points on 1/11 FGs over the next 25 minutes.  But once again Eddie got hot, scoring 13 points between the final 5 minutes of regulation (3/3 on 3s) and overtime.  In addition to his game-winner, he also hit the game tying 3-pointer with 46 seconds left in regulation to knot the game at 56 (which is the way the second half ended).

While Eddie was the Player of the Game, Joey van Zegeren had the Play of the Game.  With the game tied at 59 in OT and less than a minute to go, the Hokies turned the ball over near midcourt.  miami had numbers and it looked like Rion Brown would get an easy bucket to put the canes up.  But JvZ, playing major minutes for the injured C.J. Barksdale*, jumped around Devin Wilson to swat the shot off the backboard and give the Hokies possession, setting the stage for Eddie’s go-ahead jumper.  JvZ put out incredible effort, running the floor to get back on defense.

This game wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty between two teams picked to finish in the lower third of the league.  The Hokies, who came into the game 4th in the nation in 3-point %, hit just 5/16 in the first half.  In fact, Tech was just 9/30 (30%) on field goals at the break and hadn’t attempted a single free throw (Tech only attempted 3 FTs for the whole game).  VT scored just 8 points over a 13-minute span that overlapped the end of the first half and the start of the second half.  With 24 minutes gone in the game, the Hokies had just 24 points.  Get the picture?

miami, who is one of the worst shooting teams in the nation, weren’t much better shooting, but held a 31-23 lead at the break due largely to points in the paint.  They had an 18-4 advantage at the half in the paint, due largely to their ability to beat Tech off the dribble while the Hokies got nothing off the drive.  In fact, Tech didn’t have a fast break point until their were 5 minutes left in regulation.

Tech, who lives and dies by the 3, was dying for the first 36 minutes of the game. Virginia Tech was just 8/28 (29%) on 3-pointers until 4 minutes were left in the 2nd half, but VT hit 4/6 the rest of the way to fuel the comeback and win.

THE GOOD:

  • EDDIE!  EDDIE!  EDDIE! He has not exactly been Mr. Clutch at the end of games in the past, but his 11 straight points to close regulation (including 3/3 from deep), and that fadeaway late in OT were money!  He scored 58 points in 2 games this week and has to have a good shot at ACC player of the week.
  • We Got Wood!  I dogged Marshall Wood a few weeks ago but he’s been great from deep of late.  He hit 3/6 3s today and is 8/15 (53%) during Tech’s 4 game winning streak.
  • Turnovers – For the first time all season Tech won the turnover battle (committing 10 compared to 12 by the canes)
  • Craig Kimbrel – Another first today was the Hokies winning, and finishing, a close game.  VT’s previous 6 wins had come by an average of 16.7 points, and just one of those (wvu) was close at the end.  Today VT found a way to come back and then win.   This is a big moment for a young team.
  • 1-0: The Hokies haven’t been able to say they were 1-0 in the ACC since the 2006-2007 season, the last time VT went to the NCAA Tournament (no, no, NO, I’m not starting that line of thinking).  But for a team picked to finish 15th, it is critical to beat the other bad teams.  And to do it on the road is even more sweet, and VT did that today.  Congrats to the Baby Birds/Jakes!

THE BAD:

  • Points in the Paint: VT has to figure out how to score inside.  Tech couldn’t get out in transition and they couldn’t get low post points with Barksdale out and Raines seemingly still in the doghouse (he played maybe 10 minutes and had just one FG attempt).  miami shut down Devin Wilson off the drive (just 1 point) and Ben Emelogu wasn’t much better (11 points but on just 5/14 shooting – and just 1/7 on 3s (he was over 50% from deep coming in)).  Tech has feaster on smaller teams, but against athletic teams like miami that have some length, you can see how much VT struggles to find points inside the arc.  This has to improve.  Even with Barksdale back he’s more of a spot-up shooter facing the basket. Also, VT must be more aggressive. 3 free throws for an entire, 45-minute game?
  • *The Curse of Greenberg: So Ben Emelogu and Adam Smith were back from injuries today.  (That’s good!)  But C.J. Barksdale was now out with a knee sprain. (That’s bad)  Seriously, can we go a week without a new injury?  There were rumors of the Hokies going to hard in practice when Seth was the coach and I wonder if that isn’t continuing.  I mean, who deals with this many injuries?!

The Hokies now go into their bye week on a high note!  Tech is off until Saturday, December 21st when they play vcu at the Richmond Coliseum.

This post was written by:

- who has written 1215 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • oh_jeeesus

    Jarell Eddie stole the show there at the end, that was absolutely amazing to watch

    • Niemo

      Oh_j… Agreed. He took over the game at the end, going on an 11-1 run all by himself.

  • King

    Play of the Game: Joey’s block

    • Niemo

      King – Yep! I even have that in my updated recap…

    • oh_jeeesus

      No doubt that was huge, but Jarell Eddie’s tap-dancing 3 to tie it near the end of regulation has my vote.

  • Slam Dunk

    The Hokies will be all alone at the top of the ACC until Thursday when
    they have to share with either Maryland or BC. Then they will have a
    share of the top spot all the way into January. Boy that feels good!!!

  • Drew

    That was about as awful as you can play and somehow still win. The write up was being kind. That was a rock fight between two blind kids. I would have said the only good thing was we won, lol. It was that rough but I’ll take that W thank you very much

    About injuries, its probably time to take a serious look at strength and conditioning programs, shoes, and maybe even the construction of the court used in practice. Over the last 2 maybe 3 years, we’re having way too many nagging injuries. Most teams don’t go through this much attrition.

    • Niemo

      Drew – Building on your point, miami is a bad team. If this year’s miami team played last year’s miami team 100 times they’d lose 99. If VT plays most of the other ACC teams like they did today, they’ll be down 20+ with 4 minutes to go, not 10 and with a chance to come back.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Admit it Niemo, you were dreading having to write about this team before the season started. (I was certainly dreading this season too). I’m happy that we’ve had this pleasant surprise so far, and I’m happy for your sake as well knowing how many articles you have to write. Even if the team does end up near the bottom of the ACC as many projected, at least we had this fun stretch of games.

    It’s not a huge stretch to see this team as middling in the ACC, though. Jarell Eddie has come around as more of a leader and go-to scorer than I ever thought he could be. Ben Emelogu adds tangible leadership when he’s on the court and is better than any of us imagined he could be. Adam Smith is a real weapon and can get hot at any time. And I LOVE what I have seen from JVZ this season… he’s the shot-blocking presence in the paint that VT has never had since I have followed the team (so back to 1998 or so?). There have been guys, like Jeff Allen, who were pretty good at blocking shots, but they weren’t guys the other team had to think about if they decided to drive to the hoop. With JVZ in the middle, the other team needs to know exactly where he is at all times, and he’s affecting even more shots than he’s blocking.

    As for the free throw disparity against the c-a-n-e-s, I thought it was partially due to VT not driving to the hoop enough, but partially due to the way the refs were calling the game. The Hokies couldn’t buy a foul going to the hoop, so I think they adjusted their game plan on offense. With that said, I would have liked to see Devin Wilson get more aggressive and get to the rack. He’s a big guard and is excellent at finishing with contact. I thought he settled for passing around the perimeter a bit too much. I love his long-term potential though… he’s going to be such a beast with an offseason in the weight room.

    • Niemo

      V_Pat – Yes, I really did dread thinking about this season, especially after usc-upstate. Stock in Wild Turkey was skyrocketing after that game. And while the main reason I cut back on content this season is because of my baby, the thought of how bad this team might be also helped me rationalize it. But there is hope and lots of it. These guys remind me of the bc team of two years ago. They were very young and were considered terrible recruits. But they fought and clawed and did much better than expected, including beating the much ballyhooed VT recruiting class (most of which is gone now – Brown, Doo-Doo, and perhaps Rankin). VT has that same chip on their shoulder this year. This year, bc had much higher expectations and they have tanked so far. Hopefully VT will be able to keep that chip, even as they get better with experience (Greenberg was great at playing that underdog role).

      I agree with your assessment of the foul disparity. Wilson doesn’t seem to try and drive until the 2nd half of games. It may be because he’s trying to get his teammates going early. Personally, I’d like to see him be aggressive early and perhaps get some fouls on opposing bigs. He is good at drawing contact. The rest of our guys seem to be content sitting outside and chucking 3s, so that’s why we don’t get many FTs. Emelogu will drive but he wasn’t prepared for miami’s athleticism inside, and got rejected, but he needs to keep after it.

  • Chris

    I know I’m probably crazy for even thinking this… But I really believe this team can make a run at a NIT bid. The freshmen are much more talented than I thought they would be, Eddie is emerging as not only a go-to scorer, but also a leader, and Barksdale has been solid. The only guy who I would say has been a disappointment thus far is Raines, and he could still get it going.

    The loss to USC-Upstate hurts, and we let the Seton Hall game go, but through ten games, the only game we’ve had where we got thoroughly outplayed was against Sparty. I really thought we’d have a couple of these through the first ten.

    Looking at the schedule, I don’t think it’s a total stretch to say this team could win 15-17 games in the regular season. Would something like 16-14 (not counting the ACC tourney games) be enough to get a NIT bid? That would likely have us at 8-10 in the ACC. I think that would be enough, personally.

    • Niemo

      Chris – I agree with all your points except for two:
      1. I think 8-10 in the ACC is a huge stretch. Remember – I think miami is one of the worst teams in the ACC. So while Sunday was a great character win for the Hokies, it just means VT beat a bottom-feeder – and was somewhat lucky to do it (down 10 with 4 minutes to go)… albeit on the road. Until VT beats a team outside of the bottom third, I don’t think you can even entertain 8 wins. VT has 6 more games vs teams I think will finish in the bottom third of the league (bc, miami, wake, gt, and clemson). And we all know there is no way VT wins all 6 of those. Where are there other wins going to come from? I’m waiting to see it to believe it.
      2. Still not buying into this team getting enough wins to make the NIT (per #1).

      But we can dream and props to the team. Like you said, this freshmen class + Smith is much better than expected.

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