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Recap: boston college (3-14) 66, hokies (2-15) 59

“To be the worst, you’ve got to lose to the worst.”  With a chance to climb out of the cellar in the ACC standings for the first time in the last 4 seasons, the 2-14 Hokies lost to the 2-14 boston college eagles at the Cassell 66-59 while putting together their worst, and most embarrassing, effort of the Buzz Williams Era.  While the final score doesn’t look that bad, keep in mind this was a game VT was favored in, against a 2-14 team, at home.  And Tech trailed by as many as 22 in the game… to a 2-14 team… at home.  So while the Hokies made it close at the end, that was largely due to the fact bc was just killing time.  Tech was never closer than 6 points in the 2nd half, and that came with 2 minutes to go after trailing by 10+ for the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half.

Boxscore

The eagles, who routed nc state Saturday but hadn’t won back-to-back ACC games since March of 2013, used runs of 11-0, 11-0, and 8-0 in the first half while shooting 63% to take a commanding 41-28 lead into the break.  The lead would balloon to as many as 22 (52-30) before the 15-minute mark of the 2nd half.  (FYI: Tech lost their 6th game in a row and haven’t won back-to-back ACC games since January of 2013.)

bc shot over 50% for the game (52% compared to 39%) and both teams were 7/20 from deep.

With the loss and just one regular season game remaining, the Hokies have clinched finishing last in the ACC for a 4th consecutive season, and unless they beat miami at home on Saturday, they will finish dead last, all alone at the bottom of the sea, for the 3rd consecutive season.  And kiss appearing in the ACC/Big(14)Ten Challenge good-bye for next year.  This season can’t end fast enough — I’m just tired of [stinking] at basketball.  Serenity now!

This loss was Tech’s 4th consecutive defeat to bc, and 8th in 9 meetings.  Note: this is boston college, not duke.  bc is just 18-51 in ACC games over the last 4 seasons… but 5-1 vs VT.  The eagles own the Hokies and swept Tech in football and basketball this season in Blacksburg.  [SMH]

Olivier Hanlan, the ACC’s leading scorer at 19.6 PPG, had a good but not great game.  He scored just 15 points on 5/13 shooting.  The key was limiting everyone else… that didn’t work out.  Dimitri Batten, a senior transfer from odu and Newport News, more than doubled his average of 6.7 PPG with 18 points on 4/5 3-point shooting (his most made 3s of the season), tying his previous season high.  Aaron Brown added 13 (just below his 15 PPG average) and Dennis Clifford had 10.  For a team where Hanlan and Brown averaged 63% of their points in the last 5 games, they had 5 guys in double figures vs nc state in their win Saturday and 4 tonight.

The Hokies were led by 22 points from Adam Smith… but there was no balance.  No one else scored more than 8 for VT.

Game Flow:

The Hokies jumped out to a 10-6 lead with 4 minutes gone thanks to 5 points from Adam Smith, but then went scoreless for the 4 minutes (stop the presses!) and saw bc go on an 11-0 run to take a 17-10 lead.

Justin Bibbs, who was 1/10 from the field against uva, hit his first 2 shots (a 3-pointer and a sweet pull-up midrange jumper).  He wouldn’t score the rest of the game after that, finished 2/6 from the field (and now 3/16 in the last 2 games).

Devin Wilson buried just his 8th 3-pointer of the season and VT had a 9-0 run of their own to go up 19-17 with 8 minutes left in the half.

Then bc responded with a couple of Dimitri Batten (an odu transfer) with a couple of 3s and the eagles had a 11-0 run to go back ahead 28-19, bc’s 2nd 11-0 run of the half.  This is a 2-14 team, people.

Heck, even 7-foot Dennis Clifford hit a 3-pointer… he had 1 make on the season before that in 3 attempts.  That put bc up 31-21 and the Hokies trailed by double digits in the first half for the 10th time this season.  An Aaron Brown 3 put the eagles up 39-26 with 2:48 to go in the half, followed by a Brown layup to make it 41-26 (an 8-0 run for the eagles).  THIS IS A 2-14 TEAM, PEOPLE!

The eagles, who averaged just 64 PPG in ACC play, had 41 with 2 minutes to go in the first half.  They really extended their defense in the half court, leading to bad shots and turnovers, then pushed the ball in transition to VT’s surprise, leading to a 7-0 advantage in fast break points in the first half.

boston college went into the break up 41-28.

The eagles shot 63% for the first half (17/27), including making 9 in a row at one point.  They also hit 5/11 three-pointers.  They didn’t get a single offensive rebound, but it didn’t matter.  Hanlan had 11 points, Batten 10, and Brown 7.

VT shot just 39% (4/9 on 3s), led by Adam Smith’s 7 points and 5 from Bibbs and Pierce.

The eagles opened the 2nd half with Batten’s 3rd 3-pointer in 3 tries (he was a 32% shooter from deep coming in) and a Clifford dunk to go up 46-28 with 19 minutes to go.  This is a 2-14 team!!!!

bc basically started taking a knee with 18:30 to go in the game, holding the ball near mid court for the first 20 seconds of the shot clock.  The lead would increase to 50-30 at the first media timeout and peak at 52-30 with 15 minutes to go, and bc really started taking the air out of the ball.

Tech responded by going on a run of 16-2 to cut it to 54-46 with 8:18 to play as Adam Smith scored 8 points to get to 15 for the game.

Batten responded with his 4th three-pointer of the game and a driving layup to push the lead to 59-46 with 6 minutes to play.

A Malik Muller 3-pointer got Tech back within 8 with 5 minutes to go at 59-51. After a scoring lull, an Adam Smith triple got VT within 6 at 60-54 with 2 minutes to go and bc promptly turned the ball over against the press.

But Adam Smith missed a corner 3 with 75 seconds to go and VT had to go into foul mode against a very good free throw shooting team.  bc hit 6/8 down the stretch in the final minute and put the game away.

***Jim Weaver, I hope you feel responsible for this.  Not this game, per say, but this run of 3 straight last place finishes since you fired Seth.  You could have gotten a head coach 3 years ago and while we may have stunk that next year, the healing process would have started a lot earlier.  Thanks.***

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13th Place Mega Bowl Preview!: boston college (2-14) @ Hokies (2-14) | Monday, 9 PM | ESPNU

Spread: Hokies by 1.5.

The stakes are clear when the boston college eagles head to Blacksburg on Monday night: win, or finish last in the ACC.  Two teams enter the arena at 2-14, tied for last place in the ACC, one goes home in 13th place (the winner will tie georgia tech at 3-14 for 13th but both teams beat gt and will own the tiebreaker).  And capture a Mega Bowl Championship!!!

Mega Bowl Press Conference Video Clip

With just one home game remaining after this for each team (bc vs 4-11 wake, VT vs 8-8 miami), the loser will have to win their finale or finish all alone in the cellar.  Considering Tech in their last 3 seasons has finished tied for last, dead last, and dead last, you cannot underestimate the importance of this game.  While finishing 13th or 14th may be but a baby step in terms of getting back to respectability, at least it is some progress.  A loss leaves Tech right where they’ve been — the bottom.

The Hokies have not fared well with the eagles of late.  In fact, bc has owned the Hokies, winning 7 of the last 8 meetings.  That includes the final 3 meetings of the Delaney/Allen era.  And while Tech has been awful the previous 3 seasons, so has bc, leading them to fire their coach (Donahue), too, after last season and bring in Jim Christian from ohio university.  Obviously, he’d like nothing more than win a 2nd straight game (bc thrashed nc state in stunning fashion, 79-63, in their last game) and take bc out of the cellar.

Virginia Tech is just 12-56 in ACC games over the last 4 seasons, easily the worst in the league.  But bc is just 17-51 over that stretch.  But boston college is 4-1 against the Hokies in the last 4 years.  That’s an 80% winning clip vs VT, and 13-50 (20.6%) against everyone else in the league.  That needs to change… Monday.  WE’RE GOING TO WIN THE MEGA BOWL!!!!

Last 5 Games:

bc vs Score VT vs Score
miami L-89-96 (2OT) @clemson L-75-54
@fsu L-69-60 @miami L-76-52
notre dame L-87-70 @nc state L-69-53
@pitt L-71-65 duke L-91-86 (OT)
nc state W-79-63 @uva L-69-57

bc Stars:

There’s one:

  • #21 Olivier Hanlan – Junior – 6’4″ guard

Hanlan will be the best player on the court Monday.  Period.  He leads his team with 19.6 PPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, and in 3-point shooting (37% is tops on the team with 60 makes also on top).  Hanlan leads the ACC in PPG by a full point, is 9th in assists, and 10th in steals.  He will be a First Team All-ACC player (he was Third Team last year by the coaches and media).  Hanlan has only gotten better as the season has gone on, scoring 30+ points in 4 of their last 7 games and has not been held to less than 15 in the last 9 games.  He had 39 in a loss to pitt last week (bc only scored 65).  And he’s shot 50% or better in each of the last 5 games while averaging 29 PPG.  So he’s going to get his.

Others of note:

  • #22 Aaron Brown – Senior – 6’5″ forward

The southern miss transfer has averaged 15.2 PPG for the eagles and he loves to shoot from deep.  He’s 54/170 for 32%, so he’s not great but can be streaky.  He’s just 1/14 in his last 3 games from 3-point range, so expect him to have a huge game Monday based on our history.

Brown and Hanlan have combined for 227 of bc’s 360 points in the last 5 games (63%!!!), so they are not a balanced team normally.  That said, all 5 bc starters reached double figures against nc state.  This team gets very little off the bench (just 3 players combined for 43 minutes and 7 points vs nc state).  Like I said, Hanlan will get his, and like with Delaney, often when he’s scoring the most is not a good thing for the eagles.  If Tech can at least challenge Hanlan and keep the supporting cast from getting hot, they definitely can win.

  • Tech used a bit of token pressure against uva.  I’d like to see that again against bc because it will help get the ball out of Hanlan’s hands and force the tempo a bit against a bc team that has no depth (I know the Hokies don’t either but they are more athletic and would fare better in an up-and-down game).

Stats of Note:

  • Offensive Efficiency:
    • bc: 104.6 (114)
    • VT: 104.5 (117)
  • Defensive Efficiency:
    • bc: 101.6 (157)
    • VT: 104.7 (222)
  • Tempo:
    • bc: 63.9 (236)
    • VT: 64.1 (218)
  • RPI:
    • bc: 166 (2nd worst in the ACC)
    • VT: 218
    • RealTimeRPI Prediction: VT 70-65!
  • Free throws: bc is 3rd in ACC play (72.2%)
  • FG% Defense: bc is last in the league, VT is 13th
  • 3-Pt%: VT is 2nd (38.3%), bc is 7th (33.9%); and bc is 14th in 3-Pt% Defense (38.6%); VT is #1 in 3s made at 8.5 per game, bc makes 7.1 (tie for 5th)
  • Both teams are at the bottom in shot blocking and steals, so neither team has an eraser inside or a good on-ball defender other than maybe Hanlan (1.4 SPG)
  • Both teams are at the bottom in Offensive Rebounding % — VT must not allow 2nd chances

Trending:

  • Bibbs has averaged just 9.3 PPG since coming back from his concussion (over 20 PPG in the 3 ACC games before it).
  • Adam Smith has scored in double digits in 11 straight games, and has scored between 12-19 points in the last 9.
  • Malik Muller has scored 22 and 17 in VT’s 2 ACC wins, but averaged just 6.1 PPG in VT’s 14 losses.
  • Christian Beyer is averaging 5.3 PPG and 5.7 RPG over the last 3 games.
  • Shane Henry has 1 point and 4 rebounds in the last 5 games in limited action.

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Game Log (and My 4 Wishes): uva (15-1) 69, Hokies (2-14) 57

Recap:

Monday night is for all the marbles now.  boston college crushed nc state to move to 2-14 and will square off with the 2-14 Hokies Monday night at 9 PM in the Cassell in the battle for 14th (or maybe even 13th) Place!  It’s a Mega Bowl!!!

Oh, what happened in the uva game, you ask?  Well, the 20-point underdog Hokies played the #2 hoos tough once again.  But this time they couldn’t keep in close down the stretch and lost 69-57 for their 7th straight loss to uva.  It was another solid effort for the Hokies… but again in a losing cause.

Boxscore

Tech hung right with the hoos for 25 minutes, but with uva up 35-33 and 15:30 to go, uva went on an 11-0 run to take a 46-33 lead.  Game, set, match?  Not quite.  The Hokies buried three 3-pointers and eventually went on an 8-0 run to cut the margin back to 50-46 with 7 minutes to go.

That’s when Tech took a death blow — uva went on a 12-0 run, holding the Hokies scoreless for more than 4 minutes and took a 62-46 lead with 3:30 to go.

Early on it looked like the bounces might go Virginia Tech’s way again.  Malik Muller opened the scoring by banking in a 3-pointer, and later had a NBA-range 3-pointer deaden off the part where the hoop meets the backboard and fall gently in.  5 points from Ahmed Hill later and the Hokies found themselves up 11-4 early on.

Anthony Gill then stepped up in place of the injured Justin Anderson.  The 6’8″ 230 lbs junior was too much inside for Bibbs and the Hokies and he scored 7 consecutive points to tie the game at 11.

The game went back and forth after that for the rest of the first half, with neither team leading by more than 5.  The hoos took a 28-24 lead to the locker room.

Justin Bibbs, who looked better against duke, had a really tough day (to put it mildly).  He finished 1/12 shooting — 1/10 on FGs, 1/6 on 3-pointers, and 0/2 from the line.  And the one make was with 26 seconds to go and VT down 15.

Adam Smith had his usual solid shooting effort — 5/9 on FGs and 4/7 from deep to lead VT with 19 points.

Ahmed Hill added 10 for VT, the only other Hokie in double figures.  Malik Muller was 3/3 from deep, but for just those 9 points.

Jalen Hudson, who had 23 vs duke for a career high, went 0/1 for 0 points.

uva had 4 guys in double figures — Malcolm Brogdon with 19, Anthony Gill with 16, Darion Atkins with 16 (and put on a dunk contest at the end), and Phantom of the Opera London Perrantes who returned from a broken nose with a mask in the first half and hit 4/4 FGs and 3/3 from deep to tally 11.  The rest of the team only scored 7 points for uva, but they didn’t need it.

Tech hit 9/19 (47%) from deep compared to 6/13 (46%) for uva.  The big difference was uva outscored the Hokies 34-18 in the paint.

VT had just 1 offensive rebound in the first game, but did much better on the glass today — they actually outrebounded the hoos 31-29, including 9-7 on the offensive glass!  This was just the 2nd time in ACC play VT won the rebounding margin.

uva shot 51% from the field overall, while VT hit just 38%, thanks in large part to 7 uva blocks.

See you Monday night late for the Mega Bowl!!!

4 Wishes to Close the Season:

RK had a good idea — what are our 4 wishes based on the fact we may only have 4 games left in the season (3 regular season and at least 1 in the ACC-Tournament).  Here they are:

  1. Beat bc
  2. Beat bc
  3. Beat bc
  4. Watch the uva game on mute (check — Tim Brandt is awful)

The last one I can control and simply don’t want to hear the announcers pump up their team, or listen to their pompous, nerdy fans.

The first 3 are simply — with a win next week at the Cassell over bc, the Hokies have about a 95% chance of not finishing in last place (or even tied for last place) in the ACC, snapping that 3 year run of bottom dwelling.  bc would have to beat nc state and wake to tie VT for last if they lose at the Cassell, and considering they are 1-14 to date, good luck with that.  I’ll touch more on why this is a needed win, even more so than duke (though that would have been sweet and a real program lifter) next week.

Preview:

Spread: uva by 20.

The then 0-6 (ACC) Hokies stunned the cavs in Blacksburg a month ago, taking a 10-point lead over the #2 cavs with 10:30 to go in the game.  But VT managed just 4 points the rest of the way and missed a long 3-pointer by Adam Smith at the buzzer to tie the game, losing 50-47: Recap

That’s a good omen for Saturday, right?  Well, maybe not.  Tech played uva tough in the first meeting… and so did wake when they lost 61-60 at uva a few weeks ago (and had the ball with a chance to win at the end but couldn’t get a shot off).  How did wake fair against uva the 2nd time around this week?  They lost by 36 — 70-34.  And it wasn’t even that close.  wake had just 25 points with about 8 minutes to go.  It was a drubbing.

Maybe I should take that attitude.  I said VT had no chance against duke, and they had a shot at the end of regulation to win the game.  So even though uva is without then-leading scorer Justin Anderson (Malcolm Brogdon now leads them with 13.5 PPG).  In the first 2 games since Anderson got hurt, uva did look shaky — beating nc state by just 4 (although state is on a roll) and wake by 1.  But in the last 3 they’ve beaten pitt by 12, fsu by 10 (though that game was very close until the end), and wake by 36.  The scary thing about the wake game is uva’s point guard, London Perrantes (4.4 APG) didn’t play, either.  So let’s stick with the reverse mojo and say uva is going to win big Saturday.

Tech is just 13-34 all time at uva, and they’ve lost 6 straight overall in the series (but half of those losses have been by 4 points or less… the other 3 were absolute blowouts).  VT did upset uva 47-45 there 4 years ago to capture their 3rd win in ch’ville in 5 tries at that point.  VT is 3-7 at uva since entering the ACC.

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Game Log: #4 duke 91, Hokies 86 — Overtime — Final

Boxscore

There seemingly was magic in the air Wednesday night at the Cassell.  The same magic that saw VT beat #7 duke 67-65 at the Cassell back in 2005, avenging a 35-point loss earlier in the season at duke.  Or the same magic Tech had almost 4 years ago to the day (2/26/11) when VT beat #1 duke 64-60 on the same day they hosted ESPN GameDay.  Four years, three coaches, and 7-straight duke wins later, #4 duke strolled into the Cassell.

But with the ball and the shot clock off at the end of regulation, Jalen Hudson was not able to make a difficult, but makable, short bank shot and the Heartbrokies fell in overtime, losing 91-86.

If Jahlil Okafor isn’t the best player in the country, then I haven’t seen who is.  He looked like a man amongst boys, and in reality he was against the undersized Hokies.  He had 30 points on 13/18 FGs (plus 9 boards).  But these boys came to play tonight.

Speaking of boys, Jalen Hudson showed he’s ready to step up.  After hearing for over a month from Buzz that he’s the most talented player on the team, he showed it tonight.  He scored a career high 20 points (9/20 FGs), had 6 rebounds, and a monster block on the aforementioned Okafor.

Devin Wilson had a gigantic game, too.  He had 10 points and 11 assists, just short of the school record of 12 assists by Bimbo Coles and tying his career high.

Add to that 15 points from Adam Smith, 11 from Ahmed Hill, and 10 from Justin Bibbs and you have 5 Hokies in double figures.  Plus, Satchel Pierce had 8 and Malik Muller 7.  Like I said, it was a team effort in every respect.

In fact, almost every Hokie had their best game of the season.  This team shot 70% in the first half, then followed that up making 8 of 12 three-pointers in the 2nd half (12/22 – 55% for the game) and shot a solid 48% from the field.  VT finished shooting 53% for the game and 80% from the line (12/15).  They even held their own on the glass — or should I say they were awful on the defensive glass (grabbed just 16 of 29 opportunities), but were great on the offensive glass (snagged 10 offensive rebounds in 28 chances).  They also committed just 7 turnovers in the final 40 minutes after committing 4 in the first 5 minutes.

The problem was duke had too much star power and ultimately took over after Pierce fouled out halfway through overtime.  duke had the 30 from Okafor, 26 from Quinn Cook (21 after halftime), and 15 from Justise Winslow.  They shot an amazing 59% for the game… and still need overtime to win.  duke was 5/9 from deep in the 2nd half and hit 10/23 (44%) for the game.  This was no surprise since the Hokies were the 2nd most prolific 3-point shooting team in the league… and gave up the most 3s.

This was simply the most efficient offensive effort for Tech.  In one stretch over the last half of the first half and beginning of the 2nd half, Tech scored on 18 of 19 possessions for 41 points (that’s 2.16 points per possession, which is about double a really, really good team).  For the game, VT averaged 1.30 points per possession, easily their best effort (I’m guessing) in ACC play.  This was fun to watch.

Now, Tech must find a way to regroup and win at #2 uva on Sunday.  The cavs, who beat wake by just 1 at home 2 weeks ago, beat the deacons at wake 70-34 tonight.  But hey, miracles can happen, we almost saw one tonight.

1st Half:

Tech jumped out to leads of 2-0 and 4-2… and then things turned as expected.  The 16-point underdog Hokies didn’t score for over 4:30 and duke went on a 13-0 run to go ahead 15-4.  Jahlil Okafor, the likely #1 overall pick in this upcoming NBA Draft, did return from an ankle injury and looked pretty much like 100%.  Game over, right?  Nope.

The Hokies responded by scoring on 11 consecutive possessions.  That’s right, 11 straight!  The Hokies scored 25 points in 8:13 and climbed back within a 31-29 duke lead with 5:04 to go in the first half (VT had been as close as 1).

After two media timeouts in less than a minute and one failed possession on offense, the Hokies started clicking again.  Tech scored on 5 straight possessions after that and led 39-35!!!  That’s right, this Hokie club scored on 16 out of 17 possessions against the #4 team in the land (for 35 points in 12 minutes).

Jahlil Okafor closed the first half scoring with a jumper after committing an offensive foul (not called) to give him 14 points at the break.

The Hokies went into the break leading #4 duke 39-37.  How, you ask? (especially since many of you couldn’t watch the game since richmond blew a 6-point lead over vcu with 45 seconds to go and needed double OT to win before ESPN2 could switch to the game — get WatchESPN, people!)

Jalen Hudson paced the Hokies with 11 points, including 9 points in less than 2:30 to get Tech back in the game.  Devin Wilson added 8 points and was very aggressive off the drive.  Keep in mind, Hudson’s 11 in the first half was more than he had scored in any of his last 5 games (and 8 of 9), and Wilson’s 8 was more than he’s had in any of 5 of his last 6 games.

The Hokies just shredded the slow duke half court defense, and in transition, off the dribble.  duke tried to press like they did vs clemson, but the Hokies had no issues with it and made duke pay for guarding the perimeter tightly to take away the 3.

It just seemed like there was magic in the air.  A Tyus Jones 3-pointer literally spun around the inside of the rim 3 times before rolling out.  Where as Tech could not miss, including a fadeaway 3-pointer by Adam Smith.

The Hokies shot an outrageous 69.6% from the field in the first half.  duke shot 57%… and trailed!  And both teams were awful on the defensive glass (VT got just 7 of 13 misses, duke got just 4 of 7).  Tech had 20 points in the paint (thanks to the drive and 7 2nd chance points in 3 opportunities) compared to 22/12 for duke.

2nd Half:

The Hokies stayed hot to open the 2nd stanza, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to take an 8-point lead at 45-37 less than a minute into the 2nd half.  For those of you keeping track, like me, that was 41 points in 19 possessions (and scoring on 18 of 19).

Tech stayed red hot from deep for the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half, hitting 4 of 6 and led 57-51 with 12 minutes to go after a sweet hook shot by Satchel Pierce to give him 8 points with 12 minutes to go (his career high was 10).

Then, the tide turned blue and the duke offense turned as hot as hell.  duke scored 8 points in just 54 seconds to go ahead 59-57 with 10:50 to go.

That was all she wrote, right?  Nope.  Adam Smith answered with his 3rd 3-pointer and VT led 60-59 with 10 minutes to go in the game.

After a layup from Okafor and a 3-pointer by Quinn Cook, duke was up 64-60 with 9:24 to go.  But once again Tech came back, with consecutive 3s by Bibbs and Hudson to go back ahead 66-64.

Cook answered with another 3-pointer (he had 14 points in the first 12 minutes of the 2nd half, including 4 three-pointers), and duke led 69-68 with 7 minutes to play.

Jalen Hudson blocked an Okafor shot with authority, and on the ensuing possession drove and finger-rolled a layup to put VT up 70-69 with 6 minutes to go, giving him a career high 21 points.

After duke went back in front, Malik Muller scored in the paint then drilled a 3 and the Hokies found themselves up 75-71 with 4 minutes to play and the huge upset.

Tech suddenly went cold, and duke managed to score 6 straight to go up 77-75 with 1:04 to play.  But again, these Hokies responded and Bibbs hit a jumper off an inbounds pass to tie the game at 77 with 49 seconds to go.

After Okafor missed 2 free throws with 21 second to go, the Hokies had the ball with the shot clock off.  Jalen Hudson made an athletic up-and-under move, but couldn’t quite bank in a short shot and the game was headed to overtime.

Overtime:

In the extra frame, Ahmed Hill hit his 3rd triple to put VT up 80-79 early.  duke answered (Okafor’s 30th point) and they led 81-80.

The next sequence was a critical moment in the game.  Devin Wilson missed both free throws, and Satchel Pierce fouled out with 2:30 left and Tech down 1.

With VT behind 83-80, they did manage to foul out one of their mismatches, stud frosh Justise Winslow, with 1:21 to go.  Hudson hit both free throws to make it 83-82.

On the ensuing possession, Tech lost track of Quinn Cook in the corner and he hit his 6th three-pointer of the game to make it 86-82.  After a VT miss and duke 1 free throw, Adam Smith missed a 3 and the game was pretty much over.

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duke @ VT: A Look Back, a Look to Wednesday, and a View Forward

Four years ago this Thursday (2/26), the Hokies answered the call on their grandest stage ever and knocked off the #1 duke blue devils 64-60 at the Cassell on the same day they hosted ESPN College GameDay (link to highlights below)!  Fast forward (and boy do I wish I could fast forward this time period) almost exactly four years to Wednesday night, when duke comes to the Cassell again.

We all know what has happened since that historic night.  Tech has gone 12-56 (18% win percentage) in ACC regular season action since then, is on their third coach, and is still looking for the NCAA Tournament birth they thought they locked up back in 2011.

I don’t bring this back up to morbid, rather, I bring it up to be somewhat theraputic to me.  Theraputic because I truly believe we’ve hit rock bottom (and yes, this is at least the third time I’ve said that over the last 4 years).  But can it possibly get any worse than 3 straight years at the bottom of the ACC (and possibly a 4th if VT losses to bc)?  Could it get worse than all the seasons with 7 or 8 “healthy” scholarship players left by the end of the season?  Or having basically one true low post player?

Yes, it potentially could.  Virginia Tech could get saddled with NCAA violations, although we’d have to be the worst cheaters of all time to be this bad and corrupt.  Or Buzz could decide he got in over his head and bolt and we’d have to start over again from scratch.

But I still believe in Buzz and I like some of the key ingredients on this team and coming in via recruiting.  Yes, Buzz has flaws that will annoy us over time, but so did Seth and so does Beamer.  You take the good with the bad, and we haven’t seen any good in a while, but I truly expect to see a step forward next.  I truly expect to go at least 6-12 in the league, and would be thrilled with 8-10, plus a NIT appearance.  Sad to set the bar as a losing record, but wouldn’t that be great to finally be winning almost as many as we lose?  To actually be competitive in most games, and maybe even win some games where we didn’t have to hit a 3 at the buzzer?  It would finally show a trend in the right direction.  Even if it isn’t a huge leap, anything other than the near bottom would be a success to me next year.

Wednesday:

Spread: duke by 16.5 (so similar to RealTimeRPI’s 15-point differential)… and note that Coach K said Monday he ‘hopes’ Okafor will be able to play Wednesday… I don’t…

The Hokies (2-12) will lose this game to duke (11-3).  Period.  Coach K won’t take this game lightly, he never does.  That’s how he’s won over 1,000.  I’d expect to see them come out and press some based on Tech’s struggles with the press against wvu, louisville, and syracuse at the end of the game up there.  duke pressed clemson on Saturday to exploit their weakness and it helped blow the game out early, which is what I believe will happen Wednesday night (late).

At least it should be a packed house (I believe the game is sold out) and a lively environment.  And maybe we’ll actually fill the student section!  Although I’m sure they are very busy on a Wednesday night at 9 PM.

duke is led by all-world freshman Jahlil Okafor.  But he didn’t play Saturday nursing an ankle injury suffered in the unc win.  He averages 17.9 PPG (3rd in the league) and 9.4 RPG (4th) with 1.5 blocks per game (6th) and is 6’11” 270 lbs with great athleticism.  Tech has no answer for him other than hoping he can’t dress.

duke is better than VT at the one thing Tech is good at — 3-point shooting.  duke’s Quinn Cook leads the league with 2.7 makes pre game (Adam Smith is 4th at 2.5), duke is 3rd with 7.5 makes per game (VT is 4th at 7.3), and duke hits 38.7% of their 3s (2nd) compared to 38.5%  for the Hokies (3rd).  Then take into account that duke is better than VT in every other statistical category except for field goal % defense (Tech is one spot ahead of them), back at 375-degrees, and you have the recipe for a rout.  Even without Okafor on Saturday, duke beat clemson by 22… who just beat VT by 21.

Tyus Jones (11.7 PPG and 5.6 APG) is an excellent freshman point guard who also looks like the kid from the Munsters.

duke is 7-0 since kicking Rasheed Sulaimon off the team, so they just deal with adversity and keep plugging along.

Side note: My wife mentioned how ugly the duke team was.  I told her that’s because, while they get great players, they get the guys who don’t care about being on a campus with nerdy, ugly chicks… and that’s duke.  So you have to recruit ugly star players.  But I digress…

Series:

  • All-time: duke 43-8
  • Streak: duke has won 7 straight over VT
  • In ACC Play: duke 14-3
  • At VT in ACC Play: duke 5-2

RPI:

  • duke #5
  • VT #222
  • Prediction from RealTimeRPI: 84-69 duke (closer than I’d have thought)

One more time of happiness

Let’s end on a positive — here’s a look back at that win four years ago…

Posted in Home6 Comments

Game Log: nc state (7-7) 69, Hokies (2-12) 53

Recap:

Boxscore

The Hokies capped the final game of their 3-game road trip in the same fashion as the first 2 games — by getting crushed.  Tech lost 69-53 in Raleigh to fall to 2-12 in ACC play with 2 weeks to go in the regular season.

The game was close for 28 minutes.  After falling behind by 16 in the first half, Virginia Tech then made 11 straight field goals to get back within 3 and trailed by just a 43-39 margin with 14:08 to play.  Justin Bibbs, who had just 24 points combined in his last 4 games, scoring 16 points in a 14-minute span for Tech and would finish with a team high 18.

The wolfpack responded with a 21-6 run over the next 8:15 to put the game away at 64-45 with 5:56 to go.  state hit 5 three-pointers during that stretch to bomb VT away.

Bibbs (18) and Adam Smith (16) combined for 34 points for Tech on 14/26 shooting (6/13 on 3s).  Beyer was 3rd in scoring for VT with 8 points on 4/4 shooting.  The problem was the rest of the team was just 4/18 (1/7 from deep) for 11 points.

The other problem was Malik Muller, who had been averaging 13 PPG over the last 7 games, did not score (just 1 FG attempt).

Ralston Turner led state with 18 points.  Trevor Lacey added 14 and Cat Barber had 10.  nc state shot 52% for the game, including 10/26 from deep (39%).

Tech did hold their own on the glass (-5 for the game but just -1 on offensive rebounds).

For the road trip, Tech was outscored 220-159.  And all 3 teams shot lights out — clemson 47%, miami 51%, and nc state 52%.  At least the Hokies avoided a 3rd straight Bear Fight loss.

In case you were wondering, VT has made 116 three-pointers in ACC play, 2nd most in the league.  But they have given up 102 three-pointers to their opponents, tied for most in the league.  And if you add up their opponents’ average made 3s per game, they should have only made 83.4 from deep.  That’s 19 more than you’d expect, and shows that it isn’t just inside where Tech gets beaten like a rented mule.

The Hokies didn’t make a field goal in the first 6:44 of the game (and had 5 turnovers at that point) and fell behind by as many as 16 in the first half (30-14).  This marked the 8th time in ACC play that Tech has trailed by 10+ in the first half (they’ve led by 10+ just once — georgia tech).

That was the bad news.  The good news is Justin Bibbs finally showed up.  After making just 6/28 shots (21%) and averaging just 6 PPG over the last 4 games, Bibbs went nuts.  He scored on 4 consecutive possessions, including 2 three-pointers, tallying 10 points in 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Adam Smith would close the half with a 3-pointer (his 10th point), capping an 11-2 run for Tech, and the Hokies went into the break trailing just 32-25.  Virginia Tech has now trailed at the half in 13 of their 14 ACC games (all but the pitt game).

nc state shot 56.5% in the first half, including 4/10 on 3s, allowing them to jump out to the big lead.

Rebounding was not a story in the first half, though, as both teams had exactly 12 rebounds (5 offensive and 7 defensive).

Cat Barber from the 757 led state with 10 first half points.

The 2nd half started just like the first half ended, with the Hokies red hot from the field.  The Hokies cut the nc state lead to just 3 at 34-31 at the culmination of a 17-4 Hokie run.  Bibbs had 12 of those 17 points for the Virginia Tech.

Tech would make 11 consecutive shots (including 4 three-pointers) over a 9-minute stretch to stay close.

The problem was, once that streak ended, the Hokies faded fast.  state used an 8-0 run to go ahead 51-39 with 10:38 to go, and would make 3-pointers on 3 straight possessions to increase the lead to 57-43 with 9:05 to play, and that was all she wrote.

Oh, and at the end with the shot clock off, a state sub shot, and made, a floater.  I know those are walk-ons at the end of the bench, but I still find it classless not to hold the ball to run out the clock and this is the 2nd time the state coach has done that to VT in the last 3 years.

Preview:

Spread: nc state by 13.

PDXHokie on TSL said it best: “I’m so tired of being bad at basketball.”  It’s been a lonnnnng 4 years.  And a rough couple of road games on this 3 game road trip.  Forget trying to end the 17 game road losing streak on Saturday.  Tech needs to try and just be competitive when they head to Raleigh for a Saturday evening tilt with the wolfpack on ESPN2.  Can the Hokies keep the final margin under 20?  Under 10?  That’s what I want to see.  I don’t want to start debating about pulling toe nails out in the 2nd half because I think it would be less painful than watching this team.  Sure, you play to win the game.  And a loss is a loss is a loss.  But give me the heartbreaks of the uva game, or both syracuse games, any time over what we watched at clemson and at miami.  A team that got so badly outcoached after the half (38-8 in the first 6 minutes after the break in the last 2 games) that the bus was warming up with 14 minutes to go.  That’s what I ask for.

It won’t be easy on Saturday.  nc state is coming off a 74-65 win at then #9 louisville.  They’ve had the week off to get over the hangover and prepare for the Hokies.  Joe Lunardi currently has the pack as one of the Last 4 In, so state cannot afford a slip-up against the 14th place Hokies in their only regular season meeting.

Plus, state features one of the most efficient offenses in the nation (28th best), scoring 112 points per 100 possessions (11 higher than VT).  Amazingly, that’s only 6th best in the ACC, but still very good and this comes after VT got taken behind the woodshed by a horrible clemson offense (201st in the country — worse than the Hokies) and a solid miami offense (51st best in the land).

state is led by 6’3″ junior transfer (from alabama) Trevor Lacey.  He’s averaging 16.5 PPG in his first year able to play with state.  He’s an excellent 3-point shooter, making 2.4 per game at a 41.5% clip, so he’ll stretch the Hokie defense.  Lacey also is a good passer, averaging 3.4 APG (just behind Cat Barber’s 3.6 APG.

Speaking of Barber, the Virginia native is a much improved shooter this year, though he only shoots a little more than one 3-pointer per game (and makes 38%).  He does his damage off the drive and is lightning quick, again, testing the Hokie D.  When he penetrates, he can score or dish to 6’9″ Kyle Washington (7.4 PPG), 6’8″ Abdul-Malik Abu (5.9 PPG), or 6’9″, 300 lbs. Beejay Anya (4.8 PPG).  Anya is my prediction to have a huge game, well above his season average.

Barber can also kick it out to Lacey or Ralston Turner for a 3-pointer — Turner hits 38% and has made 65 three-pointers on the season.  state is the 4th best 3-point shooting team in the ACC at 36.6% per game in ACC action, and 7th in makes at 6.8 per game.

state is an average offensive rebounding team at 32.5%… you know what, it doesn’t matter — we all know they are going to get ~50% of their misses in this game.

The pack are solid in almost every statistical category except they are dead last in steals per game at 4.2 per game (VT gets 4.5).

  • RPI: nc state #47, VT #220
  • RealTimeRPI Game Prediction: state 83-61 (Uncle!  Uncle!)
  • Offensive Efficiency: state – 112.0 (28), VT – 101.0 (181)
  • Defensive Efficiency: state – 99.1 (117), VT – 102.4 (176)
  • Tempo: state – 65.9 (134), VT – 65.5 (151)

Series:

  • All-time: state 38-14
  • In ACC play: state 10-5
  • At nc state in ACC play: state 4-2
  • Streak: state has won 4 in a row in the series, before that VT had won 4 in a row, before that state had won 6 in a row… so we’re due!

Just make it interesting, boys.  Please!  My liver begs it of you.

Posted in Home2 Comments

Game Log: miami (7-6) 72, Hokies (2-11) 46

Recap:

Niemo asked me (Cope) to write the recap for this game since it was his son’s birthday. I said sure, why not? I lucked out and didn’t have any clinical rotations this week. But then, I saw the game and realized it was the worst game I’d seen all season and that is wasn’t really worthy of a recap.

Seriously, do you really want to read about how badly we got outrebounded by the worst rebounding team in the conference? Or about how we suddenly couldn’t hit the ocean if we were 1,000 miles out to sea without a boat? How about stats? What would the purpose be at this point?

So, what are we to make of back-to-back embarrassing performances? Well, it could be that the team is just gassed after so many close games and they simply don’t have anything left in the tank. It could be that most of these guys were playing high school ball last season and have been through the ACC ringer and are done. Maybe the Hokies played some teams tough and close and the rest of the schedule took notice and is now exploiting weaknesses previous teams either didn’t see or ignored. Who the hell knows.

So, instead of the usual post-game stats and “they’ll learn from this” mumbo jumbo, I thought it would be way funnier to show you the Tweets between Niemo and myself. Enjoy.

Niemo and Cope text about the miami game, part 2

Niemo and Cope text about the miami game, part 2

Niemo and Cope text about the miami game, part 1.

Niemo and Cope text about the miami game, part 1.

Best. Recap. Ever.

Preview:

Spread: miami by 11.

From a logistical standpoint, this game sets up about as well as you could have hoped.  The hurricanes were scheduled to play in Boston on Sunday, but due to 17″ of snow, had the game moved to Monday afternoon.  The game went 2 overtimes before the canes finally beat lowly bc, then had to hop on the 3-hour flight back to Miami, and get ready to play the Hokies (who have been off since Saturday) on Wednesday night.

Plus, the Hokies beat the canes twice in the regular season last year, including their ACC road opener back in December of 2013 (that was also Tech’s last road win — here we are 15 losses later).

All that said, this is still a 2-10 Hokie team.  A team that got drubbed on Saturday by a clemson team that turned around and lost by 11 at 2-11 georgia tech (clemson scored just 52 points in that game… they had 52 vs VT with 17:26 still to go in the game).

However, the Hokies can’t play any worse, or see a team play any better than clemson did… can they?  We can only hope.  Tech should at least get a nice day or two out of this (it’s 83 in Coral Gables on Tuesday, and 71 on Wednesday).

The canes are led in scoring by Sheldon McClellan.  The 6’5″ junior wing averages 14.6 PPG and 5 RPG.  He’s a decent 3-point shooter at 37% and has 36 makes.

Angel Rodriguez (5’11” redshirt junior point guard) averages 12.7 PPG and 4.4 APG (the latter leads the team).  If the name sounds familiar, he played 19 minutes, scoring just 1 point, for kansas state back when they came to Blacksburg in December of 2011 (ksu won that game 69-61… but that’s the night we found out VT made the Sugar Bowl so it wasn’t all bad).

Tonye Jekiri is a live wire inside.  The 7-footer (though just 235 lbs) averages 8.2 PPG but 10.2 RPG (he leads the ACC in rebounding).  He also averages 1.6 blocks (4th best in the ACC), half his team’s totals.  He’s very athletic for a guy of his height.

Davon Reed is an absolutely dead eye shooter (6’6″ soph guard).  He’s 24/45 from deep (53%).

Manu Lecomte is another good 3-point shooter, coming off the bench (40/90 — 44%).

As you probably gathered from the above players, miami depends on the 3-point shot a lot.  37% of their points in ACC play have come from behind the arc (Tech gets 40% of their points from 3-point range).  miami is #8 in the league in 3-point % at 34.6% (VT is 3rd at 37.6%), and the canes make 8.3 per game, 2nd only to VT at 8.5.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that whomever shoots the 3-pointer better will likely win… though the difference could be miami is #1 in the ACC in free throw % at 73.7%, while Tech is 11th at 66.3%.  So if the Hokies are behind late, it could be game over.

Defensively, miami is pretty average except they are 4th in the ACC with 5.8 steals pre game.  Tech must protect the ball and not give up live-ball turnovers that can lead to easy buckets.

Another good thing for the Hokies is miami is 14th in Offensive Rebounding % at 25.4% (only ahead of VT).  So the Hokies should not get dominated on the glass… but we’ll see about that.  Of course, fsu and clemson shouldn’t have been raining 3s on VT either and we saw what happened.

Series:

  • All-time: miami 14-12
  • In ACC play: Hokies 11-8
  • Last year: VT won both regular season meetings, but lost in the ACC Tourney
  • At miami in ACC play: Hokies 4-3

Expectation:

These teams are really very similar, but with miami being the more experienced team.  Given miami’s nightmare travels over the weekend and long flight, plus the fact they won (so you don’t learn your lessen as well as after a loss to a bad team), I think the Hokies will stay in this game and have a very real shot of wining at the end.  But they must be able to knock down 3s and get a better shooting performance from Justin Bibbs than they have of late.

Posted in 2014-15 Season, Game Recaps, Games, Home8 Comments

Game Log: clemson (7-6) 75, Hokies (2-10) 54

Recap:

Boxscore

While the final score doesn’t do this justice, the Hokies were absolutely embarrassed by a 6-6 clemson tigers team on the road, getting woodshedded 75-54 for Tech’s 16th straight road loss.  Tech trailed by as many as 35 early in the 2nd half before a late run.

The game was over before most fans were even in Littlejohn Coliseum (WHATTT).  clemson started the game on a 10-0 run and were up 19-4 at the first media timeout before your Wild Turkey had a chance to melt your ice cubes (WHATTTT).  They’d stretch the lead out to 22 before the break and led 41-22 at the half (the 3rd time VT has trailed by 20+ during the first half and been behind by exactly 19 at the half in ACC play).

There would be no lucky sweater today, the 2nd half was just as bad… clemson didn’t exactly take a knee, jumping out with a 17-2 run after the break to go up 58-24 on the Hokies.  The lead would get as big as 35 points before clemson took their foot off the gas.  To Buzz’s team’s credit, they turned up their intensity in the final 10 minutes.  The Hokies used a 16-2 run to cut a 34-point clemson lead to 20 with 6:20 to go, but it was way too little too late.

How, you ask?  Well, you’d never have expected the reason..

  • clemson came into the game shooting 29.9% on 3-pointers, 13th in the ACC, and 5.5 made per game, 9th in the league
  • They started 5/5 from deep in the first 6 minutes (including 3/3 from Jordan Roper, a 29.6% shooter)
  • The tigers went 1/10 from long range the rest of the first half (6/15 – 40% for the half)
  • Then, they opened the 2nd half 5/5 again!!!  They were 11/20 from deep at that point and Roper (again, a 29.6% shooter) was 5/5 for the game.
  • For the game, clemson was 10/10 (100%) from behind the arc in the first 6 minutes of halves.
  • They were 1/19 (5%) the final 14 minutes of each half.
  • The 11 made 3s were one short of the clemson high of 12 under Coach Brownell (5th season at clemson)

Actually, if you took out the first 6 minutes of each half (VT was outscored 40-11), Tech was pretty competitive!

Jordan Roper led the clemson charge with 11 points in the first 6 minutes and 21 points for the game, just the 2nd time in his 3 year career he’s gone for 20+.  He was 5/6 from 3-point range for the day and 8/11 from the field.  This wasn’t completely out of the blue as he had a career high 24 points on 6/8 three-point shooting vs bc recently… but, in case you didn’t read this the other two times, he’s just a 29.6% three-point shooter.

Jaron Blossomgame added 14 points on 6/8 shooting.

The Hokies were led by 17 points from Malik Muller (6/13 on FGs and 5/11 on 3s).  He’s been Tech’s best player lately, scoring 81 points in his last 6 games (13.5 PPG).  And that’s despite how hard he has to work on the defensive end playing the 4-spot at just 6’3″.

Adam Smith added 13 points, but on just 4/11 shooting and 2/6 from deep.  No other Hokie reached double digits.

Justin Bibbs’s struggles continued — he’s now just 3/18 for 13 total points in his last 3 games (0/3 for 2 points today).

clemson shot 47% for the game compared to 38% for VT.  Tech saw clemson make more 3s (11) than them (8) and shoot a higher percentage (38% to 35%), despite a big advantage to VT in both stats coming in.

The start of this game was just unbelievably horrible for the Hokies.  clemson came in with a really, really good defense, 2nd best in the ACC in PPG allowed behind uva.  And they delivered, forcing the Hokies into 6 turnovers and just 3/15 (20%) FG% in the first 15 minutes.  The Hokies would go into the break shooting 30% with 8 turnovers and more made 3s (4) than 2s (3… Tech was 4/9 from deep and 3/14 inside the arc).

The stunning part was the tigers offense.  They came in 301st in the nation at 62.1 PPG, and dead last in the ACC in league games at 57.7 PPG.  But here’s all they did in the first 6 minutes of the game:

  • Started 5/5 on 3-pointers (as mentioned)
    • They only averaged 5.8 made 3s per ACC game
  • Jordan Roper had 11 points on 4/4 FGs and 3/3 threes
    • He had as many FGs as VT had points
  • clemson scored 19 points on their first 10 possessions (1.900 per)
    • They averaged just 1.001 points per possession coming in, 199th in the land
  • Satchel Pierce had 3 fouls and he didn’t even start the game!
    • He was channeling his inner-Shane Henry
  • VT started 1/7 on FGs with 3 turnovers while clemson was 7/9 with 2 turnovers
  • At this point, clemson was on pace to beat VT 126-26

Things did become more ‘normal’ after that, but clemson was still able to outscore VT 22-18 the rest of the half.  That was despite shooting just 1/10 on 3-pointers for the remainder of the first stanza, but the damage had been done.  In fact, the Hokies weren’t outscoring Jordan Roper (13 points in the first 11:40) until there was 5:30 left in the first half.

clemson’s 41 points were their highest mark in the first half this season.  Note that clemson had scored just 42 points for the whole game at uva, and had been held to 45 or less three times… for entire games.

clemson had 62 points with 15 minutes to go in the game… that matched or surpassed their total in 8 other entire ACC games and 11 games overall.

The tigers 75 points were a season high in ACC play, eclipsing the 71 they had at pitt (the only other time they reached 70).  This was the most points clemson had scored since getting 86 in their first game of the season vs florida a&m.

Preview:

Spread: clemson -8.5

On Saturday, the Hokies can put together their first ACC winning streak since mid-January 2013 with a win at Littlejohn Coliseum — Yeahhhh!  But to do that, they’ll have to snap their 15-game road losing streak (13 straight in ACC play — What???).  Tech has won just 1 of their last 21 ACC road games.  But hey, streaks were made to broken (road loses) AND started (ACC wins).

To do it, Tech will have to beat the most overachieving team in the ACC this season, in my opinion.  c-l-e-m-s-ohhhh-n was picked to finish 11th by the media, they currently sit alone in 7th place (so sort of in the upper half), the biggest upward movement of any ACC team.  They’ve done it by beating the teams they can/should.  They are just 1-4 against the teams ahead of them in the standings (the win was over syracuse), but 5-2 against the teams in the lower half of the league.

I never expected this after clemson opened with a win over famu, but then loses to winthrop and gardner-webb!  After that, they re-grouped and beat 3 of 4 SEC teams they played (lsu, arkansas, and auburn… lost to south carolina).

This team may have needed some time to figure out how to play without freakish athlete K.J. McDaniels, who led the team with 17 PPG (almost double anyone else), 7.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and 2.8 blocks.  Plus, he led the league in highlight dunks with Vince Carter like hops.  But he took his show to the NBA (with the 76ers now).

But Jaron Blossomgame has really seen his game blossom (had to do it) in his place (what a perfect name on Valentine’s Day!).  After averaging just 4.9 PPG and 5.0 RPG last year as a freshman, the 6’7″ 215 lbs sophomore leads the team with 13 PPG and 8.2 RPG.  He’s not the Human Highlight Film like McDaniels, and he only averages 0.4 blocks, but he is still a really good athlete and can sky above the rim.  He does his damage near the hoop, averaging just 0.5 threes per game in 2 attempts (26% average).

The offense is run by 6’1″ senior Rod Hall.  He scores 8.7 PPG, but dishes 3.5 APG.

Donte Grantham is a 6’8″ freshman that averages 9.4 PPG (2nd on the team) and 4.5 RPG.

Landry Nnoko, a 6’10” 255 lbs junior, isn’t a big offensive threat (7.4 PPG), but does work on defense, grabbing 5.4 RPG and 1.8 blocks.

clemson does not shoot the 3-pointer well (29.9% on the year, 31.1% in ACC games — 14th in the league).  And they make just 5.8 per game (VT makes 8.5 — tops in the league).  So, for the 100th game in a row, I’ll say it — the Hokies must shoot a higher percentage from deep and make more than clemson to win.  That actually wasn’t the case against gt, though, where VT destroyed the jackets off the dribble and shot over 50% for the game, while making just 1 more 3-pointer (but shooting a much higher percentage).

The tigers are defense-oriented.  They are last in the league in PPG in ACC play, but #2 in scoring defense.  They are also #2 in FG% defense and #4 in 3-point % defense, so Tech will have their work cut out for them shooting-wise.

clemson is middle of the pack in almost every other stat in the ACC, including offensive and defensive rebounding, so they don’t present a huge challenge inside like some teams.  That said, they are a very sound team that won’t give up easy buckets and make you work for every point, much like uva.  They are #36 in the nation in Defensive Efficiency at 93.3 points per 100 possessions.

The tigers are methodical, averaging just 61.5 possessions per game (322nd in the nation — VT averages 65.5 for 157th).  So expect a slow it down game at Littlejohn without a lot of shots shots shots shot-shots, that will likely be in the mid-50s.

RPI: clemson – #88, VT #215 (RealTimeRPI predicts a 72-57 win for clemson)

Series:

  • All-time: VT 15-14
  • In ACC Play: clemson 9-7
  • At clemson in ACC play: clemson 5-2 (tigers have won 3 straight at Littlejohn vs VT… What?)

Posted in Home3 Comments

Game Log: Hokies (2-9) 65, jackets (2-10) 63

Recap:

Boxscore

Real men wear argyle

Real men wear argyle

The Hokies won the Battle for 13th Place Mega Bowl!!!  Or put another way — Buzz out-buzzed the buzz!  Tech took down the lesser tech, overcoming a 10-point deficit with 4:30 to play and win 65-63 at the Cassell.  The Hokies are now 2-9 in the ACC, good enough to move out of last place and into 13th ahead of gt (2-10) and bc (1-9).  Tech also surpassed their total wins of a year ago (10 this year, 9 last year) and tied their total ACC wins (2).

The heros tonight were Malik Muller and Buzz Williams’s sweater (he switched out of a suit at the half and into a maroon-orange argyle sweater).  History was not on the side of Malik Muller when he shot a corner 3-pointer with 15 seconds to go, having missed late 3-pointers to tie the game or give the Hokies the lead against syracuse (at VT), uva, and pitt.  But instead of shooting from the left corner, this time he calmly drained a 3 from in front of the Hokie bench to give Tech a 64-63 lead.

Score at each media timeout

Score at each media timeout

A Hokie stop on the next possession then sealed the win and assured Tech will not have a losing record at home this season (they are now 9-6 at the Cassell and have had a losing record at home just twice in the history of the Cassell).  And to think ESPN didn’t think enough of this game to even send an announcing crew (the game was called by announcers in the ESPN studio).

With a three game road trip looming, this was a critical win for the Hokies to avoid falling too deep into the cellar.  Virginia Tech responded early jumping out to a 14-2 lead, but blew that quickly and trailed 31-26 at the half.

Tech would not take the lead at all in the 2nd half until that 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, and trailing 58-48 with 4:30 to go.  But this team doesn’t quit.

The Hokies were led by Malik Muller’s 17 points.  Adam Smith also added 15 and Shane Henry scored 10 points before fouling out (again) in 12 minutes.

Justin Bibbs struggled for the 2nd game in a row — had had just 3 points with 5 minutes to go on 1/7 shooting before hitting a 3 and a layup down the stretch to give himself 8 points.  He had just 3 points on 0/6 shooting vs fsu, so he’s 3/15 in the last two games (and 4/9 from the line).  Not sure if he’s hit the freshman wall, or just isn’t all the way back from his concussion.

Devin Wilson also scored just 2 points for the 2nd game in a row and once again was on the bench down the stretch, except for the last second when he was in for defense.

Here’s a crazy stat for you — in Henry’s last 3 games he has 25 points and 11 fouls in 29 minutes (and fouled out twice).  He has to be tops on the team in points and fouls per minute!  Henry is also 7/7 on FGs in the last 2 games.

Muller has been hot of late, averaging just under 13 PPG in his last 5 games.

georgia tech was led by 17 points from Charles Mitchell (a teammate of Seth Allen’s at maryland last year), 11 for Marcus Georges-Hunt, and 10 from Tadric Jackson and Chris Bolden.

The Hokies sold fewer than 5,400 seats, and many of those 5,346 were dressed as empty seats.  It was the 2nd lowest crowd for an ACC home game.  The student turnout continues to be pathetic.

The Hokies are now 11-5 against the lesser tech since joining the ACC (and 15-6 overall).

Keys to the Game:

  • Hold your own on the glass: (have a defensive rebounding % of at least 60%)
    • gt DOMINATED the boards, getting 19 offensive rebounds in 41 opportunities (46%)
    • VT didn’t get a single offensive rebound until 7 minutes into the 2nd half and finished with just 5.
    • How bad was it for VT?  Their best rebounder was ‘Team’ with 6 rebounds — if the ball gets knocked out of bounds on a rebound attempt and you get the ball, it’s a team rebound and VT had 6 of those… no player had more than 5.
    • gt was +13 in the first half on the boards, but VT was actually +1 in the 2nd half, a key to their comeback.
  • Dominate from deep: (make more 3s and shoot a higher % than gt)
    • VT was 5/12 from deep at 42%
    • gt was 4/19 at 21%
    • gt is and was awful from deep (3 airballs), but they also did a fantastic job of preventing the Hokies from launching 3s… until the critical Muller shot
  • So, based on my two keys, gt should have won — why didn’t they?  The Hokies found ways to penetrate and score in the paint — VT shot 48% in the first half and 56% in the 2nd half (52% on FGs for the game)!  That helped compensate for the extra possessions gt had thanks to offensive rebounds.  gt shot just 38% for the game.
    • gt had a 19-3 advantage in 2nd change points, but…
    • VT actually had a 38-36 edge in points in the paint thanks to all those driving layups against the extended jacket defense

Game Flow:

The Hokies jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first 4:33 of the game on the woeful yellow jackets!  And then they got absolutely taken to the woodshed for the rest of the half.  georgia tech would close the half outscoring VT 29-12, jumpstarted by an 11-0 run to cut the Virginia Tech lead to 14-13.

The run was fueled by Charles Mitchell, a transfer from maryland that was teammates with Seth Allen just last year.  Mitchell, who is 6’8″ and 269 lbs, had 40 pounds on any Hokie other than Satchel Pierce.  Mitchell scored 11 points in an 8 minute span, capped with a tip-in with 7:35 to go in the half that tied the score at 18-18.  Tech would score just 4 points in a 9 minute span as their early lead faded bye-bye.

The Hokies took their final lead of the half with 4:37 to go before the break, but georgia tech closed the stanza with a 9-2 run to take a 31-26 lead to the break (gt scored just 27 points at uva for the entire game).

Both teams looked horrendous on offense, committing a combined 17 turnovers in the first half.  The difference was the jackets grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in 21 opportunities, leading to 11 2nd chance points.  The Hokies didn’t get a single offensive rebound on their 12 misses and were -13 on the boards at the break.

The Hokies made just 1 three-pointer in the first half on 5 shots (gt, one of the worst shooting teams in the league, was 3/13 — a horrible average but they were getting the rebounds).

Mitchell led the jackets with those 11 points (no one else had more than 5) while VT got 8 points and 3 fouls from Shane Henry in 7 minutes, and 7 points from Adam Smith.

Shane Henry has 23 points and 9 fouls in 23 minutes in his last 3 games.

At the break, Buzz Williams ditched the suit for a sweet maroon and orange argyle sweater.  After another low post bucket for a 6’8″ 270 lbs. yellow jacket (this time it was Demarco Cox), Tech responded with a 9-2 run (thanks to 5 points from Malik Muller) to tie the game at 35.

The key for the Hokies to get back in the game was attacking the rim in the half court set.  georgia tech was focused on taking away VT’s best offensive strength, the 3-point shot, and played 4 guys on the perimeter.  So the Hokies started pump-faking and driving the wide open paint for layups (needless to say Cox and Mitchell aren’t exactly spry).  Or VT would run the pick-and-roll to Beyer for a few layups.  And when it didn’t get buckets, it also racked up the fouls on the jackets — VT was in the bonus with 14:30 to go in the game and the double bonus with 9:30 to play.

In a game of runs, georgia tech would push back out to a 7-point lead at 46-39 with 11:34 to go.  VT answered again and cut the lead to 1 at 46-45  After an Adam Smith 3-pointer made it 51-48 gt, the jackets responded with a 7-0 run to make it 58-48 with 5 minutes to go, georgia tech’s biggest lead of the game.  The run was capped by Tadric Jackson’s 2nd 3-pointer of the game (he was 7/58 from deep coming in — that’s 12%!!! — but he was 2/4 from range tonight).

The Hokies once again wouldn’t raise the white flag, and went on a 7-0 run (including 5 points from Justin Bibbs) to cut the lead to 58-55 with 2:45 to go.

The teams alternated points for the next few possessions, but VT finally got a stop thanks to a shot clock violation with 53.1 seconds to go and the Hokies down 62-59 (sound familiar?).  On the ensuing possession, Jalen Hudson went to the line and hit both free throws to make it 62-61 jackets with 34.5 to play.

Shane Henry fouled out with 28 seconds to go while fouling a 68% foul shooter, the mammoth Mitchell, but he was just 2/5 on the night — he made 1 of 2 and the Hokies responded with a corner 3-pointer from Muller to go up 64-63 with 15 seconds to go.

After a gt timeout, Marcus Georges-Hunt went at the rim but 3 Hokies collapsed and forced a miss and a deadball rebound to VT with 2.5 seconds to go.

Smith hit 1 of 2 to put VT up 65-63 with 1.8 to go and gt having to go the length of the court, and a desperation inbounds play led to a shot… but after the buzzer and Buzz beat the buzz 65-63.

Preview:

Spread: jackets by 2.5

It’s the mother lovin’ Battle for 13th Place Mega Bowl!  Despite losing 9 of 10 games to open ACC play, the Hokies can move out of the cellar and into 13th place with a win on Monday night.  That’s because 2-9 georgia tech buzzes into town.

The jackets may be just 2-9 in the ACC, but they are 96th in the RPI (VT is 218).  georgia tech has won 2 of their last 4 ACC games after starting 0-7 in the league.  The first win was a 70-50 stunning blowout of #23 miami in Miami, and they beat wake forest 73-59 on Saturday.  So when they’ve won, they won big.  And 8 of their 9 losses in ACC play were by 7 points or less, 2 of them were in overtime, and 4 were by 3 points or less…  Then there’s the trip to uva… in that game georgia tech lost 57-28 (and despite us not having an editor, that’s not a typo).  The georgia tech football team outscored the basketball team against uva.

georgia tech is not an explosive offensive team.  They shoot just 41.7% from the field on the year (and below 40% in ACC play) and 28% from deep.  Chris Bolden and Quinton Stephens average 1 made 3-pointer per game at 34% and 35% respectively, and they lead the team.  This is good for the Hokies because it will allow them to pack in their defense, dare gt to shoot from deep, and pound the glass.

The jackets aren’t tall, either, which is good news for the Hokies.  But they do have 2 defensive tackles they play in the post — Charles Mitchell (maryland transfer) is 6’8″ 269 lbs and Demarco Cox is 6’8″ 276 lbs!  The jackets are 2nd best in the ACC in Offensive Rebounding %, so Tech must get all 5 guys on the boards.  The thicks for gt will present issues for the Hokies in the post and both shoot over 50% from the field, but like I said, VT can collapse and double them in the post because of the jackets’ lack of 3-point threats.

The jackets are solid on defense and hang their hat there, posting a Defensive Efficiency of 93.9 (44th best in the nation and 8 points per 100 possessions better than Virginia Tech — so expect the Hokies to struggle to score).

Best Player: #3 Marcus Georges-Hunt (6’5″ junior) — he is the only jacket averaging double figures, and he’s just at 13.9 PPG.  He also chips in 5.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, and 1.4 steals (the latter leads the team).  He likes to attack inside.  He’s just a 26% 3-point shooter (so expect him to be hot Monday).  MGH gets to the line more than 5 times per game, doubling anyone else on the team.

The Hokies: For the Hokies, they’ll be looking to get over the florida state loss after just 52 hours.  In that game, Justin Bibbs was held to a season low 3 points on 0/6 shooting.  Both Bibbs and Devin Wilson were on the bench down the stretch (Wilson had just 2 points on 0/3 shooting).

Ahmed Hill had his best game of his young career, though, with 19 points (career high) including 4/7 from deep (mostly in the corner), and Adam Smith chipped in 19 (he had 43 points this season against fsu).

But Tech just couldn’t counter the size, and ability to get to the rim, of the noles.  That shouldn’t be an issue against the thick, but slow, jackets.

Key Stats (ACC games only):

  • georgia tech 74.5% on FTs (2nd in the ACC), VT 67.9% (11th)
  • Both teams are in the bottom of the ACC in FG% at 39.9% (VT) vs 39.1% (gt)
  • VT hits 37.7% of their 3s (4th) vs 29.3% for gt (last)
  • VT makes 9.0 threes per game (1st) vs 4.3 for gt (14th)
  • gt 38.5% offensive rebounding % (2nd) vs VT 60.8% defensive rebounding % (last)
  • gt is 13th in turnover margin (-1.8) and last in assist-to-turnover ratio — hopefully the Hokies can cause live ball turnovers that can lead to easy buckets

Tech must dominate 3-point shooting in terms of % and makes in this game (broken record, I know — but they didn’t do that against fsu with both teams making 8 and fsu shooting a higher percentage.

The Hokies also must rebound at least 60% of the jackets misses (they got 61% vs fsu, which is solid).

Series:

  • All-Time: VT 14-6 (VT’s best record of any ACC rival)
  • In ACC Play: VT 10-5
  • Trend: Since winning 7 of 8 vs gt between 2008 and 2013, the Hokies have lost 2 in a row to gt including a 62-51 loss in the ATL last year
  • At VT in ACC Play: VT 5-1 (the only loss was in the last meeting in Blacksburg in February of 2013)

This is the only meeting of these teams in the regular season.

RealTimeRPI predicts a 68-64 Hokies win! Although they now have us down to 3 total ACC wins (they picked us to beat fsu and now have us losing to miami).  Let’s hope the jackets have the same shooting woes they had in their last trip to the Commonwealth.

Posted in Home4 Comments

Game Log: florida state (5-6) 73, Hokies (1-9) 65

Recap

It looks like the recent string of gut-wrenching, last-second losses has finally taken its toll on the young Hokies as they dropped their ninth conference loss this afternoon, 73-65, at home to florida state.

Statistically speaking, this game was pretty much a dead heat, save for one, very important category: field goal percentage. The noles shot an eye-popping 54% while the Hokies shot a respectable (especially for such a young team) 40%. That was the difference in the game, folks. Outside of that, they were pretty even.

True freshman Ahmed Hill scored 19 points including 4 3-pointers, both career highs. Redshirt junior Adam Smith extended his double-digit scoring streak to five games, matching Hill’s 19 points. No other Hokie reached double digits today.

They didn’t play horribly, they just ran into a hot-shooting team. Considering how poorly they played early in the season (see loss at home to radford), they have come a long way. I was skeptical after the first 10-12 games, but seeing how they’ve progressed and stepped up against better competition; how they’ve responded to Buzz; and how they gut it out… I’m all in with Buzz and his staff. I’ve never felt so optimistic about a 1-9 team. I see a bright future ahead and each game gets us a bit closer to it.

And now for an in-game observation… Satchel Pierce played just seven minutes. Considering he is the Buzz’s biggest player (at 7-feet tall *cough*) and he was playing a very big fsu team with three 7-footers, I figured Pierce would see some good minutes, but he got off to a bad start and quickly found himself on the bench for much of the game. Christina Beyer, whom Buzz admitted he second-guessed himself about not playing more in the syracuse heartbreaker, played 22 minutes today, scored four points, and had three assists.

In the first three minutes of the game, Pierce missed a jumper, committed two turnovers, and of course, a foul. It wasn’t his day from the get go. On the radio broadcast, Bill Roth said that Pierce averages one foul for every two minutes of action in conference play. In the biz, we call that “not good.” As a result, he played just 7 minutes, his fewest since December. This isn’t a knock on the kid at all. He’s a true freshman who’s getting significant minutes, which will benefit his development. Buzz knows what he’s doing and Pierce has great upside.

Preview:

Spread: Hokies by 2!!

It’s time to wash that stink off from the heartbrokie loss on Tuesday at syracuse and make the seminoles pay when fsu heads to the Cassell in a rematch of the noles 86-75 win over Tech on January 6th.

That was another one of those games were a horrible shooting team can’t miss that we know all too well.  fsu shot 73% in the first half and 7/10 (70%) on 3s!  They scored 53 points in the first half.  To put that in perspective, in 10 ACC games (including that game), they are shooting 44% from the field, 33% from deep (and average just 5 made 3s per game), and score 67 points for a game.  Needless to say the first meeting skewed those stats a wee bit.

Also, fsu had more offensive rebounds (15) than VT had defensive rebounds (14).  That’s… not… good.  The problem is fsu has three 7-footers to throw at us.

Since the VT game, fsu is 3-5 with wins over clemson, wake, and miami (they overcame a 16-point first half deficit), and losses to syracuse, pitt, nc state, unc, and clemson.  They’ve scored more than 65 points in regulation just once in those 8 games and have been held in the 50s (where they were at the half vs VT) 4 times.  Let’s hope last game was a fluke.

Adam Smith and Justin Bibbs combined for 49 points (65% of VT’s points) in the first meeting.  Tech must get better balance and hopefully Malik Muller continues his recent trend (almost 14 PPG in his last 3 games) and Jalen Hudson is coming off a career high 18 points.

The Hokies were 11/28 (39%) from deep in that first meeting.  If the Hokies can repeat that this time, and get at least 60% of fsu’s misses on the defensive glass, VT will win.

RealTimeRPI.com predicts a 73-68 VT win!!!  They had the pitt game for us, FYI.  And I think we will win this game, too (and so does Vegas).  fsu was way too hot last time, and shooting percentages usually drop on the road.  Plus, I think VT is better prepared to battle in the low post then they were a month ago when JvZ had just been suspended.

RPI:

  • fsu: 134 (2nd worst in the ACC)
  • VT: 208

Offensive Efficiency:

  • fsu: 101.6 (171)
  • VT: 101.5 (172)

Defensive Efficiency:

  • fsu: 98.9 (118)
  • VT: 100.9 (155)

Posted in 2014-15 Season, Game Previews, Game Recaps, Games, Home1 Comment

syracuse Self-Imposes 1 Year Postseason Ban (What a Joke)

I don’t write many opinion pieces anymore*, but I couldn’t resist when I heard syracuse had imposed their own one year postseason ban (this year).  The case is in response to an ongoing NCAA investigation into potential past infractions by the team that syracuse initiated due to academic issues dating back to 2007.

Let’s review what they did to themselves:

  • They can’t win the ACC Tournament
  • They won’t play in the NCAA Tournament (see below about that…)

Let’s review why no one cares:

  • They would have been the #6 seed (as of today) in the ACC Tourney and would have had to win 4 games to win the title, the last 3 of which would have been against higher seeds (likely).  And they haven’t gotten to the tougher part of their schedule (i.e. not playing VT anymore… their 6 wins are against teams with 10 combined ACC wins, so even the #6 seed isn’t an assurance.
  • They weren’t going to the NCAA Tournament unless a miracle happened anyway.  They are #72 in the RPI right now, which isn’t even on the NCAA bubble at this point (Lunardi doesn’t have them in the first 8 out).  So it was NIT for them, in all likelihood.

This is a program that has been to the NCAA Tournament 6 straight years and 35 times since 1973.  They were in the Final Four two years ago and the Sweet 16 four of the last six seasons.  Do they care about going to the NIT?  No.

By doing this now, they also protect a really solid recruiting class.  They have signed 4 players from the ESPN Top 100 for next year, including the #19, 55, 64, and 91st best players.  If they had a postseason ban put on for next year, don’t you think that 4-star shooting guard might re-think going there, knowing he might be one and done anyway?

This reminds me of a few years ago when miami self-imposed a postseason ban.  They were 4-4 at the time and not really in the Coastal race.  Whoop-dee-doo.

This whole situation reminds me of the teenager who gets caught with beer in his car by his parents.  He knows he’s going to be grounded.  So, he goes to his parents and says he’s self-imposing a grounding for Tuesday night.  No parties for him that night, he’ll stay home.

The NCAA needs to send a message and say, “Thanks for the offer, but your ban has to be in a future year — a year when you haven’t established you suck.  A year that might scare off recruits.  A year that isn’t already lost.”  They need to make syracuse stay home on a Friday and/or a Saturday night.

Posted in Home8 Comments

Tech’s Offensive Efficiency — Overall and in the Clutch

Obviously, Virginia Tech’s offensive efficiency down the stretch was a dumpster fire at syracuse.  The Hokies committed 6 turnovers, attempted just 2 field goals, and 4 free throws after the final media timeout (3:50 to play).  Using the calculation of Offensive Efficiency = FGA + (.475 x FTA) – Off Rebs + Turnovers, that gives you an offensive efficiency of 0.4, or 40 points per 100 possessions (an average team averages over 101.5 points per 100 possessions).

But that’s just a small sample size so I wanted to see how VT was doing overall from an offensive and defensive standpoint, just in ACC play, and in the clutch (after the final media timeout) of these last 4 nailbiters.  Here’s what it looks like… (note this shows points per 100 possessions).

  • All Games:
    • Hokies: 101.6 (right at the NCAA median)
    • Opponents: 102.0 (slightly higher than the average median — i.e. slightly bad)
  • ACC Games:
    • Hokies: 97.6 — not very good
    • ACC Opponents: 110.3 — really, really bad from a VT standpoint; this would be in the bottom 50 teams if this was VT’s overall Defensive Efficiency
  • vs uva:
    • Hokies: 33.3 — really, really awful… just 2 points in the 6 possessions to close the game — I should note that up until that point VT’s efficiency was 86.5.  Not very good, but then again, this was one of the best defenses in the nation (uva).
    • uva: 116.7 — uva scored 7 points on their final 6 possessions — uva’s efficiency up until that point was just 78.2, an awesome defensive showing by the Hokies.
  • vs pitt (this includes overtime):
    • Hokies: 122.2 — awesome!  Explains how they overcame a 7-point deficit late.  11 points in 9 possessions to close the game.  Helped that VT got 3 offensive rebounds to extend possessions.
    • pitt: 60.0 — and this explains how pitt lost
  • at wake:
    • Hokies: 150.0 — again, terrific!  9 points in 6 possessions.
    • deacons: 183.3 — this explains how VT lost that game.  wake scored 11 points in their final 6 possessions, helped by a couple of offensive rebounds
  • at syracuse:
    • Hokies: 40.0 — yeesh.  6 turnovers in 10 possessions will do that to you — up until that point VT was at an efficiency of 101.5 which isn’t bad against the ‘cuse zone.
    • orange: 140.0 — they scored 14 points in their final 10 possessions — the orange’s efficiency was just 87.9 up to that point, another solid defensive showing from VT… for 36 minutes.
  • Overall in the ‘clutch’ of the last 4 games:
    • Hokies: 83.9 — not great
    • Opponents: 118.8 — very bad from a VT standpoint
    • Why it isn’t good…
      • VT has committed 7 turnovers in the clutch, compared to just 2 by their opponents
      • Opponents have grabbed 9 offensive rebounds compared to just 3 for VT (all in the pitt game)
      • When you turn the ball over and can’t get rebounds to get ‘stops’, here’s your result.

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Game Log: syracuse (6-3) 72, Hokies (1-8) 70

Recap:

Boxscore

Tech blew a 13-point lead with 5:30 to play, an 8-point lead with 3:40 to go, a 4-point lead with 41 seconds to go, a tie game with 19 seconds to go where VT had the ball and the shot clock was off, and lost in regulation 72-70 at syracuse in Tech’s 4th straight game that came down to a shot at the buzzer (1-3).  There are losses and there are LOSSES.  This stings about as much as a loss can, to me even worse than the uva loss a week ago.

Give credit to the orange.  Up against the wall and down with 4 minutes to go (and down 66-58), they went to a full court trap press and caused 6 Hokie turnovers.  That was capped by a back court violation with 7 seconds to go and the game tied. where Tech could have held for the last shot.  Instead, ‘cuse got the ball back and a Michael Gbinije up-and-under shot with 0.1 seconds left gave the orange the win.

I should also note that unlike against uva, VT didn’t just take the air out of the ball down the stretch.  They kept pushing, trying to score when the press led to odd man breaks.  The problem was more times than not that led to a turnover or a quick miss and change of possession.

The Heartbrokies absolutely played their hearts out tonight.  They hit their first 6 three-pointers of the 2nd half (and 50% for the game — 9/18) to turn a 34-30 halftime deficit into leads of as many as 13 at 63-50.  But once again they found a way to lose down the stretch, this time by the turnover bug.  Tech committed 16 turnovers for the game including those crucial 5 in the clutch.

The Hokies dominated from deep (9 makes at 50% compared to 4 makes at 19% for the cuse) and held their own on the glass (9 offensive rebounds for VT compared to 11 for the orange, despite the fact VT played 5 guards a good bit of the game and both ‘big’ men, Pierce and Henry, fouled out with more than 4 minutes to go).  The Hokies even split in rebounds with each team getting 40.  Tech was 7/8 from the line compared to 16/29 for ‘cuse (55%), but Gbinije made 2 critical free throws to tie the game to setup his game winner.

In the first 14 minutes of the 2nd half of both games vs syracuse, VT outscored the orange by 17. Unfortunately, the final 6 minutes were another story and ‘cuse closed the game 22-7 tonight.

VT was led by 19 points from Justin Bibbs (41 in the two games vs syracuse), a career high 18 from Jalen Hudson before he fouled out, and 13 from Adam Smith.  Muller and Henry chipped in a key 9 points, too.

For syracuse, it was a 3-man show.  Gbinije and Trevor Cooney had 18 each, and Rakeem Christmas, the focus of Tech’s defense, had 15.  The rest of the team combined for just 21 points.

Well, now it is time to try and go to sleep somehow.  Not going to be easy after staying up until 11 and thinking you had the game in hand.  We’ll see you Saturday at the Cassell when Tech plays florida state at 3 PM.

Game Flow:

The Hokies were absolutely dominated in the first half of the game at the Cassell, falling behind by as many as 22 and trailing 42-23 at the break.  That was not the case tonight as Tech came out prepared for the orange.

After falling behind 2-0 after just 12 seconds, Tech tied the game at 2-2 about 3-1/2 minutes in and never trailed for the next 8 minutes.  The Hokies led 14-10 with 9:55 to go in the first half, thanks in large part to the aggressive play of Jalen Hudson off the bench.  Hudson had 6 of Tech’s first 14 points, taking it right at the syracuse zone.

syracuse elected to play 4 defenders beyond the 3-point line.  When the Hokies were able to penetrate past that line of defense, good things happened for the most part.  Meanwhile, Tech did everything they could to limit syracuse’s star, 6’9″ Rakeem Christmas, doubling him often inside.

While the orange’s strategy had limited success early, it finally paid off when Tech got sloppy with their passing.  Down 14-10, ‘cuse went on an 11-0 run over the next 2:30 to take a 21-14 lead with 7:15 to go in the first half.  It was a dunk show for the orange, and they’d have 5 dunks in the first 15 minutes of the first half thanks to their interior advantage.

If you have watched the Hokies of the last 10 days, then you knew they’d respond… and they did.  Tech went on a 14-4 run over the next 4:30 to take a 28-25 lead with 2:45 to go in the first half.  Again, it was Hudson’s aggression that paid off, Adam Smith finally hit a couple of 3s (Tech didn’t hit a 3-pointer until almost 13 minutes into the game), and Justin Bibbs was hitting midrange jumpers from the high post to get Tech back in the lead.

Hudson went at the rim hard 5 times in the first half, most of which were right at big man Christmas.  The result?  10 points thanks to 4 field goals and 2 free throws.

syracuse responded with a 9-2 run to close the half and took a 34-30 advantage into the break.

Smith and Hudson each had 10 for Tech, and Michael Gbinije had 10 for ‘cuse.  Cooney and Christmas added 9 each.

Where Tech struggled was when they were flat-footed in the paint.  syracuse had 7 blocked shots in the first half, including 4 from Christmas.

The Hokies, who were already undersized, played 5 guards most of the final 5 minutes of the first half.  But Tech did a great job on the boards, getting 33% of their offensive misses (8 offensive rebounds in 24 chances), compared to just 3 offensive rebounds for ‘cuse in 19 chances (16%).

**** orange 34, Hokies 30 – Halftime ****

The Hokies came out bombin’ after the break, hitting 3 three-pointers to open the 2nd half and fuel a 9-0 run to take a 39-34 lead with 18:30 to play (2 from Muller, 1 from Smith).

Things went back and forth over the next 7 minutes, but the Hokies kept raining 3s and ‘cuse kept dunking.  Tech hit 3 more three-pointers (Hudson, Bibbs, and another Muller 3), giving them 6 in 6 tries in the first 8:12 of the 2nd half, while the orange got 3 more dunks, giving them 8 with 12 minutes to go.  But the 3 beats the dunk, and Tech led 52-49 with 11:20 to go.

Tech finally got a dunk of their own, as Bibbs found Shane Henry on the baseline for a 2-handed flush to put VT up 56-50 with 10:12 to go.  Then Jalen Hudson banked in a 3 with 8:30 to go to put VT up 59-50… then Jalen Hudson added an up-and-under layup (to give him 18 points surpassing his career high of 15 and ACC high of 12) to put Tech up 61-50 with 7:10 to go, capping a 12-1 run for the Hokies…

Then Satchel Pierce, Tech’s lone big man, fouled out with 6:58 to go.  Problem?  Not at first.  Bibbs added a jumper to make it 63-50 Hokies and an 11-0 run with 6:30 to go.

syracuse then installed a full court trap press and Tech started rushing shots (granted they had numbers) and turning the ball over, leading to a 6-0 run for ‘cuse to make it 63-56.

After Shane Henry missed a free throw with 4:01 to go and VT up 66-57, he fouled Rakeem Christmas 90-feet from the basket, and fouled out of the game, eliminating Tech’s last regular forward.  Tech led 66-58 at the final media timeout with 3:50 to go.

After the break, a VT turnover led to a syracuse layup to make it 66-60.  Another Hokie turnover in the back court led to a ‘cuse free throw to make it 66-61 VT.  Another Hokie turnover in the back court led to an orange put back to make it 66-63.  A wild Hokie shot led to a ‘cuse layup to make it 66-65.  Yeesh.

Justin Bibbs hit a pair of free throws to stop the bleeding and make it 68-65 Hokies with 2:12 to go.  Christmas hit 1/2 free throws to put it at 68-66 VT and then both teams traded turnovers, giving Tech the ball with 1:22 to go.

Adam Smith had an open, but rushed, look with 1:15 to go and missed, giving ‘cuse the ball back down 2 with 70 seconds to go.

Christmas missed a hook with 50 seconds to go, and VT got the rebound and Bibbs went to the line with 41 seconds to go.  AND HE DRAINED THE ONE-AND-ONE, putting VT up 70-66 with 40.5 to go.

Tech responded doing the worst thing possible, fouling Gbinije on a layup, giving him an and-1 and fouling Jalen Hudson out with 37 seconds to go (yes, that took them all of 3 seconds).  The free throw was missed and VT led it 70-68 with 32.7 to go and a VT timeout.  Tech killed 6 more seconds in the back court and burned their final timeout with 26 seconds to play.

The Hokies threw away the inbounds pass and Gbinije, who was 4/8 from the line on the night, went to the stripe and sank both with 19 seconds to go to tie the game at 70.

The Hokies could have played for the final shot, but committed a back court violation and the orange got the ball back with 7.1 to go and the game tied.

Gbinije put in a leaner with 0.1 to go and that was that, 72-70 ‘cuse.

Preview:

Spread: syracuse -12.5

The Hokies look for revenge as they close out their first half of ACC play when they head to the Carrier Dome to take on the orange Tuesday night (late).

In the first meeting (Link to Game Log from the first meeting), Tech fell behind by as many as 22 in the first half, and trailed by 19 at the break.  But nobody makes us bleed our own blood, and the Hokies responded with a 26-9 run after the break to cut the ‘cuse lead to 2 with 6 minutes to play.  After Devin Wilson missed a left-handed layup, the orange retook control and led by 9 with 52 seconds to go.  But some shaky free throw shooting for syracuse and good 3-point shooting from VT allowed Tech to get the ball back with 4 seconds to and down 68-66.  Tech got the ball up the court and to Malik Muller in the corner for a potential game-winning 3-pointer, but it was not to be and Tech lost by that 68-66 margin.

Justin Bibbs had 22 to lead VT, and Devin Wilson had 13 points and 8 assists.  syracuse was more balanced with Trevor Cooney (18), Rakeem Christmas (17), Tyler Robertson (11), and Michael Gbinije (10) in double digits.  (Link to Boxscore)

Tech did a decent job on the glass (syracuse rebounded 39% of their offensive misses compared to 29% for VT) and beat ‘cuse from deep (10 makes at 40% compared to 6 makes at 29%).  syracuse was horrible from the line (57%) in 28 attempts, and both teams shot 39%.

The key was Tech was ice cold in the first half (28%) while syracuse hit 43%.  Cooney had 14 before the break for ‘cuse as VT could not stop him, and Christmas added 10.  The Hokies just looked overwhelmed by the patented Boeheim zone, scoring just 3 points in a 10 minute stretch, but then looked like the better team for most of the 2nd half.

Series:

  • All-time: syracuse 6-2
  • In ACC play: syracuse 2-0
  • At syracuse: syracuse 3-1 (the one win was in 1976 when Boeheim was an assistant)

Trends:

  • syracuse has lost 3 of 4, falling by 13 at clemson, beating bc by 8 at home, losing by 4 to miami at home, and then by 10 at unc
  • Hokies: Have won 1 of their last 2!!! And 3 games in a row have gone to the buzzer

What We/they Do Best in ACC Play:

  • ‘cuse – 6.8 steals per game (2nd in the ACC — and Cooney leads the league at 2.4) and +2.8 in turnover margin (#1) — they are middle of the pack in almost every other stat
  • Anything 3-point related (on offense) — VT is #1 in the ACC in makes per ACC game at 9.0, and #6 in % at 36.5%.

What We/they Do Worst in ACC Play:

  • syracuse, like VT, is near the bottom in free throws, hitting just 64% in league play (and just 57% at VT)
  • Anything related to rebounding — VT is last in Defensive Rebounding % by a large margin, and 14th in Offensive Rebounding %

Best Player:

  • Rakeem Christmas (18.4 PPG and 9.0 RPG) — in ACC games he’s averaging 20.3 PPG (tied for tops in the league) and 9.3 RPG (5th).  He’s also 3rd in FG% and blocks.
  • Justin Bibbs has averaged 18 PPG in the 4 ACC games he’s played in.

RPI:

  • orange: 69
  • Hokies: 203

Offensive Efficiency (Points per 100 Possessions):

  • orange: 104.3 (107)
  • Hokies: 101.7 (167)

Defensive Efficiency (Points Allowed per 100 Possessions):

  • orange: 94.4 (53)
  • Hokies: 101.5 (167)

Tempo (Possessions per Game):

  • orange: 66.3 (115)
  • Hokies: 65.1 (178)

Posted in Home10 Comments

Game Log: wake (2-7) 73, Hokies (1-7) 70

Recap:

Boxscore

For the 3rd game in a row, and 4th time in 8 ACC games, the contest came down to a 3-pointer for the Hokies to tie or win the game.  Unlike against pitt, and more like against syracuse, uva, and now wake, the iron was unkind as Justin Bibbs’s shot banged off the rim (the Hokies got the ball back with 0.4 seconds left but a Hill 3-pointer wouldn’t have counted even if it had gone in… it didn’t) and Hokies fell to the last place wake forest demon deacons in Winston-Salem 73-70.  Tech isn’t quite in last place, though, as georgia tech fell to 1-8 earlier today.

While the miss 3-pointer stands out, it was Tech’s struggles on the glass that cost them the game.  VT tapped a wake missed free throw out of bounds with 35 seconds to go and the deacons up 69-67.  That allowed wake to get another chance from the line and put themselves back up by 4 before Smith would hit a 3-pointer that cut the lead to 1 instead of giving VT the lead.

The greatest news of the day was the return of leading scorer Justin Bibbs after missing 4 games due to a concussion suffered in practice.  He scored 10 points in 20 minutes.

Tech had an extremely balanced attack on the afternoon, unlike vs pitt when Smith and Muller combined for 48 points.  Today, SIX Hokies scored in double digits — 12 for Smith, 11 for Wilson and Hill, and 10 for Bibbs, Beyer, and Muller.

The Hokies held wake’s star, Devin Thomas, to just 9 points thanks to great double teams in the post.  But that allowed their fellow leading scorer, Codi Miller-McIntyre, to go for 19 points and Mitchell Wilbekin scored 15 including some critical 3-pointers.  Dinos Mitoglu also had 15 for wake.

It was another tough loss for the Heart-brokies who have played three solid games in a row after basically never leading in their first five ACC games.  But that said, the Hokies fought and fought and fought for 40 minutes once again.  They always are playing up hill at the end instead of having a chance to ice the game, and that’s the next hump for this team to get over (they did take a brief lead in the final 2 minutes but couldn’t get a stop).  This loss would bother me a lot more had VT not won Tuesday, but let’s face it — a week ago an 0-18 ACC season seemed realistic.  Now we are off the hook of a winless slate and seem poised to win a few games over the 2nd half of the ACC slate.  I know, not much, but it is all about baby steps and the Baby Birds are making huge leaps lately.

Keys to the Game:

  • Limit Devin Thomas:
    • Devin averaged 17 PPG and 10 RPG in ACC play entering the game and presented a huge challenge for Tech inside
    • WIN: Tech held Thomas to just 9 points on 3/5 shooting.
  • Attack the tin:
    • Shoot at least 12 free throws and get fouls on Thomas
    • WIN: Tech was 17/20 (85%!!!) from the foul line so this was a great sign… and they got Thomas in some foul trouble — he hat to sit for 5 minutes when he picked up his 3rd foul with 12 minutes to go.
  • No freebies:
    • Force Miller-McIntyre and Thomas to go to the line and not get layups (they both shoot 60% from the line)
    • WIN: Thomas shot more free throws (6 — making 3) than field goals (5 — making 3).  That shows they didn’t let him just score without getting hacked.  McIntyre had 7 free throws.
    • And, they even scratched Thomas’s cheek.  But the problem was while Devin Thomas was just 3/6 from the line, wake rebounded 2 of his misses leading to 3 second chance points.
  • Dominate from deep:
    • Tech shoots 37% from deep and makes 8.5 per game in ACC play coming in
    • wake shoots 30% deep and makes just 5.6 per game (and is near the bottom of the ACC in 3-point% defense in the league at 37% allowed)
    • PUSH: Tech hit 9/26 from deep (35%) compared to 7/25 (28%) for wake.  That’s not bad, but not enough for Tech to win (heck, 1 more make and this game goes to overtime).

But the true key to the game was rebounding.  As I point out below, VT outrebounded wake in the first half 18-17 and 6 offensive boards to 5.  In the 2nd half, wake destroyed the small Hokie lineup.  wake grabbed 10 offensive rebounds after the break, including 3 on missed free throws (and a critical team rebound after wake missed 2 FTs up 2 with 35 seconds to go) that led to 5 second chance points just on those free throw misses.

wake also had 8 blocked shots to 0 for Tech.

Who the Heck is that Guy?:

Today, that honor goes to wake’s 6’10” freshman from Greece, Dinos Mitoglu.  He came in averaging 8.5 PPG but had 10 points at the break and finished with 15 points including 3/7 from deep.  I should note he did have 26 against syracuse, but hadn’t eclipsed 10 points in any other ACC game.

Game Flow:

For the first half of the first half, it looked like the Hokies were well on their way to a 2nd straight victory.  Tech led 10-4 with 10:30 to go in the first half and wake was just 2/11 from the field.

Then, the mistakes started — a miscommunication led to an easy layup on a wake inbounds pass, then a Hokie inbounds pass the wrong way led to a breakaway layup for wake.  Just like that it was 10-8, and wake would wake-up to score 16 points in the next 3 minutes and 30 seconds (including a 9-0 run) on 6/7 shooting to take a 20-15 lead.

Part of the problem was Satchel Pierce, Tech’s lone true big, picked up 2 fouls in the first 4:05 of the game and sat most of the rest of the first half.

Tech battle the rest of the half and thanks to a Devin Wilson 3-pointer just before the break, were only down 32-28.

The Hokies actually outrebounded the deacons on the offensive glass in the first half 6-5, but those 6 (and 18-17 overall) led to 0 points, while wake got 8 points from their 5 offensive rebounds.

Ahmed Hill had 8 at the break to lead VT, while Wilson and Muller had 7 each.  Dinos Mitoglu had 10 at the break for wake.

wake opened the 2nd half with more spirit then the Baby Birds, and a 7-1 run put wake up 39-29, their first double-digit lead of the game.

Tech seemed to agree with me on the “no freebies” for wake key to the game.  Christian Beyer picked up his 4th foul with 11 minutes to go in the game and putting wake in the one-and-one already and in the double bonus with 10 minutes to go.  And Jalen Hudson fouled out with 3:20 to go.

Once again, though, the Hokies got off the mat and responded (seems to be a theme for this undermanned Buzz Williams team).  The game ebbed and flowed between a 4-10 point lead for wake for the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half.

The strategy worked, and the Hokies cut the wake lead to 1 at 51-50 thanks to an Adam Smith 3-pointer from the exact spot as his game winner against pitt with exactly 10 minutes to go.

The game would go back-and-forth from that point:

  • After wake went up 5, VT battled to cut the lead back to 1 at 57-56 with 7 minutes to go on a Devin Wilson layup.
  • Mitchell Wilbekin hit a 3 for wake as the shot clock expired to make it 60-56 deacons, but Ahmed Hill responded with a 3 to make it 60-59 with 4:30 to go.
  • wake got a layup from Miller-McIntyre (to give him 19 points) to make it 62-59, but Jalen Hudson put back an offensive rebound to make it 62-61 with 3:30 to go.
  • After 2 Wilson free throws Tech got within 64-63, and finally retook the lead on a Wilson to Beyer dish and layup, putting the Hokies up 65-64 with 1:50 to play.
  • On the ensuing possession, Tech doubled Thomas in the post as they had done all day, but he found Wilbekin in the corner.  Wilbekin was 2/8 from deep on the day, but swished a 3-pointer to put wake back up 67-65 with 1:30 to go.
  • Bibbs then drove at Thomas and picked up his 4th foul, and tied the game at 67 with 2 free throws and 1:18 to go.
  • Devin Thomas scored on an up-and-under with 59 seconds to go against Beyer (and his 4 fouls) to make it 69-67 wake.
  • Hill missed a 3-pointer with 37 seconds to go that would have given VT the lead and the Hokies fouled Wilbekin — he missed both but the Hokies tapped the rebound out of bounds and wake got the ball back (the opposite of of Tuesday when VT got a favorable review).
  • So, VT fouled Wilbekin again — and this time he made both to put wake up 71-67 with 32.7 go to.
  • Adam Smith again was Mr. Clutch, hitting an elbow 3-pointer to cut it back to 71-70 (sure would have been nice if VT could have rebounded the ball previously).
  • Jones, a 59% foul shooter, then hit both (of course) to put wake up 73-70 with 11 seconds to go.
  • And to end, Bibbs missed a good look from the corner to tie the game.

Preview:

Spread: wake -7.5.
Note: In most markets, this game will be on CSN-Plus (or CSN2) since the Caps play at the same time on Comcast Sports Network.

As we like to say around these parts, “If you want to be the worst, you’ve got to lose to the worst.”  And the Hokies have done that quite a bit the last 3 years.

With both T/techs winning their first ACC games of the season this week, there are no longer any winless ACC teams.  VT and bc sit tied for 13th place at 1-6, while wake and gt hug the bottom at 1-7.  SO THIS IS THE 13TH PLACE MEGA BOWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Hokies ride into this game with Uncle Mo finally on their side after a heartbreaking loss to #2 uva and a miracle comeback win against pitt.  wake, under new Head Coach Danny Manning (yep, the kansas star who is originally from the area), has lost 4 straight since a home win over georgia tech.  So this is certainly the pillow fight of the weekend.

The Ghost of Bzdelik lives on.  You regular readers know how I loved to point out former Coach Bzdelik’s road record (he only won 1 conference road game in 4 years at colorado, and just 2 in four years at wake — though one of those was at VT / JJ last year).

Even with Manning in charge, wake 0-4 on the road… unfortunately for VT, this game is at wake.  And Tech is 0-5 in all road games this season.  Can Tech keep their momentum from their last 2 home games going?  Or will they look like the roadkill they’ve resembled in their previous 5 road games?  We’ll see.

Note: Barring some huge surprise, Justin Bibbs will sit for the 5th straight game.

Best Players:

  • #0 Codi Miller-McIntyre (Guard, 6’3″, Junior): The former Hargrave teammate of Montrezl Harrell leads wake with 14.2 PPG and 4.0 APG.  The offense runs through him.  He is explosive in transition and off the drive, but shoots just 27% from deep (11/41) and 42% from the field.  wake is at their best when they can get out and run and use their athletes.  Tech must cut him off and force him to pass.
  • #2 Devin Thomas (Forward, 6’9″, Junior): wake’s best low post player averages 13 PPG and 10 RPG.  In ACC games, he is averaging 17.4 PPG (5th in the league) and 9.9 RPG (3rd).  To me, he’s the most important player in this game for either team, but I’ll expand on that below…

Keys to the Game:

  • Limit Devin Thomas: While Codi averages more points than DT, Thomas is the bigger mismatch for Tech.  He’s a very skilled low post scorer who can also hit midrange jumpers.  Devin had 31 against louisville (Harrell) and followed that up with 24 against duke).  He should have a big day against the Hokies limited front court, unless..
  • Attack the Tin: The Hokies must be aggressive.  In the pitt game, VT shot 17 free throws.  Not exactly duke or unc, but it was almost double what Tech had averaged in their previous 3 games.  Going to the rim not only should create easier opportunities, and more free throws, it could also produce fouls on Devin Thomas which could limit his minutes and wake’s biggest advantage.  Devin is prone to fouls, having fouled out 3 times this year and accummulating 4 fouls in 2 other games.
  • No freebies: Both Codi (61%) and Devin (60%) are horrible free throw shooters.  wake is actually below VT in FT% in ACC play (60.4% vs 61.6%).  Tech should not give them easy buckets.  Commit a hard foul and force them to earn it from the line (especially Beyer and Henry).
  • Dominate from deep: Same recipe as against pitt.  Shooting 3s is what Tech does well.  They killed pitt from deep (12 makes to just 4 for pitt and 44% to 36%).  In ACC only games, wake is last in the ACC in Points Against, last in FG% Defense, 14th in 3-Point%, 11 in 3s made per game (5.6 compared to VT’s 8.5), and 10th in 3-Point% Defense.  If the Hokies don’t finish with a distinct advantage in 3-pointers made and percentage, they have very little chance of winning.

wake, as a whole, isn’t particulary good at anything.  They are not in the top 5 in ACC games in any category.

Also, luckily for VT, wake is not a great offensive rebounding team (just 28%, 12th in the league).  Tech must get a body on Devin and hit the glass as a team, especially on the weak side, like they did against uva and pitt.

Tempo Stats:

  • Offense:
    • wake: 102.1 points per 100 possessions (158th in the NCAA)
    • VT: 100.3 (196)
  • Defense:
    • wake: 97.0 PP100P (90th in the NCAA)
    • VT: 100.5 (149)

RPI:

  • wake: 153 (14th in the ACC)
  • VT: 192 (last in the ACC)
  • RealTimeRPI predicts a 77-65 win for wake (but 5 total ACC wins for VT)

Series:

I use to say we OWNED wake forest.  At the end of the 2011 season, Tech was 4-0 vs the deacs in football and 8-2 in basketball since joining the ACC.

That’s changed.  wake has won 3 of 4 over Tech in basketball since, including a 83-77 win in Blacksburg last season to give Bzdelik his ONLY road win in his final two seasons at wake.  …And then there was the football game this season.

That was before Buzz… and Danny Manning.  If this game was at VT, I’d pick the Hokies, but it isn’t, so I won’t make a prediction.

  • All-time: 29 wins, 29 losses
  • In ACC play: VT 9-5
  • At wake in ACC play: 3-3

Posted in Home0 Comments

Game Log: Hokies (1-6) 70, pitt (3-5) 67 (OT)

Recap:

Boxscore

There will be no winless ACC season.  The Hokies got up off the mat and answered the bell, beating the (arm) pitt panthers 70-67 in overtime at the Cassell in front of 5,206!  Woooooooo!  Time for some Victory Scotch!!!

[Writer’s Note: this was not the first draft of the recap…  ;-)]

It was deja vu all over again for the Hokies, down 62-59 to pitt — a 3-pointer with a chance to tie in the final seconds penn state, syracuse (for the win), uva, and now pitt.  But this time Adam Smith, from the top of the key but even deeper than Sunday, drained the 26-28′ three-pointer with 0.7 seconds to tie the score and send the game to overtime.

As fate would have it, Lady Luck was on Tech’s side (and so was Adam Smith).  With the score tied at 67 and just 29 seconds to go, Malik Muller missed a tough up-and-under layup.  The rebound was slapped by a pitt player off Muller’s shoulder and out of bounds, but was called Tech ball on the court.  After looking at replays that clearly showed the ball hit Muller and went out of bounds without being touched again, the refs gave the ball to VT claiming the pitt player touched it again (he didn’t).  Tech milked the clock down since the shot clock was off and with time running out, once again Adam Smith played the hero, burying a deep 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left to put VT up 70-67.

pitt got the ball up court quickly and had a decent look at a 3 to tie at the buzzer, but the worst 3-point shooting team in the league came up short, and Buzz Williams had his first ever ACC win.  And Tech snapped a string of 25 straight losses to ACC teams not named miami.  And Tech won their first game in exactly a month… you get the idea.

The Hokies (1-6) avoided falling to 0-7 in ACC play for the first time since joining the league (and the first time in any conference since the ricky stokes days).  Just like in 2006 when Tech was 0-6 in the league, they answered when it mattered most.

Tech was led by 26 points from Adam Smith (tying his season high) and a career high 22 points from Malik Muller.  Those two guys scored 48 of Tech’s 70 points and shot 17/36 (47%) from the field and 10/20 (50%) from the 3-point line.  The rest of the team was 6/24 (25%) and 2/7 (29%).

Let me be frank — this was an AWESOME win.  Hats off to the guys as I was writing them off (literally) on two different occasions in the 2nd half.  Especially responding so quickly after the uva game without your leading scorer or rebounder.  Wooo!

Game Flow:

After falling behind 11-5 to start, the Hokies went on a 17-7 run and went into the break up 29-24, their first lead at the half in a month (and first halftime lead in ACC play).  Malik Muller led Tech with 12 points in the first half, including the final 10 of the half.

pitt opened the 2nd half on a 10-0.  The team with the worst 3-point shooting percentage, and fewest made 3s in the ACC, hit two right out of the blocks.  After getting just 4 offensive rebounds in the first half, they quickly grabbed 3 more to turn a 29-24 deficit into a 34-29 lead.

The Hokies responded with 5 quick points to tie the score, only to see pitt go on another 6-0 run and take a 40-34 lead.

Just when you thought the Hokies would fold up, they responded again, going on a 15-4 run to take a 49-44 lead with 8 minutes to go sparked by 8 points from Muller and 5 from Smith.

Just when you thought Tech might take charge, pitt went on a 9-0 run (and 12-2 overall) to take a 56-51 lead with 4:18 to play.  It all started with a Tech fast break, resulting turnover, that led to a pitt dunk.

But once again Tech would battle back, and a Christian Beyer 3-point play and two Adam Smith 3s sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, VT led by as many as 3 before pitt chipped away and tied it with a minute to go.  Tech would control the ball for the next minute, capped with the Smith 3 for the win, until 3.6 seconds were left.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

Key Opportunities:

  • pitt came in as the worst 3-point shooting team, and 3-point defense, in ACC games
    • 1st Half Result: Hokies hit 5 three-pointers to just 1 for pitt (36% vs 25%)
    • Game Totals: VT had a 12-4 advantage in made 3s and a 44% to 36% advantage in %
    • Summary: Big win for VT here and is why they won, obviously

Buzz’s Focus:

  • Get to the Foul Line (VT had attempted just 29 free throws in their last 3 games, and made just 14)
    • 1st Half Result: Tech got to the line 9 times (making 6… although they missed the front end of a 1-and-1)
    • Game Totals: 12/17 from the line (71%)
    • Summary: about double the attempts from recent games and a higher % — win for VT

Weaknesses to Limit/Exploit:

  • pitt was #4 in league in Offensive Rebounding % (in ACC games), VT was dead last in Defensive Rebounding % — 35% grabbed vs 41% allowed
    • 1st Half Result: pitt was able to get just 4 of 13 offensive rebound chances (31%)
    • Game Totals: 15 offensive rebounds for pitt at a 41% clip
    • Summary: pitt dominated the glass in the 2nd half… this was a wash and on par with past games
  • pitt averaged just 8.3 turnovers per ACC game and had the best turnover margin in the ACC (+3.1)
    • 1st Half Result: VT caused 8 turnovers in the first half (committed just 5) and Tech had an 11 to 2 advantage in points off turnovers
    • Game Totals: pitt had just 3 turnovers in the final 25 minutes (11 for the game), but VT had a 16-8 advantage in points off turnovers and a +2 turnover margin
    • Summary: surprising win here and helped limit pitt’s opportunities at offensive rebounds

Preview:

Note: Justin Bibbs is expected to miss his 4th straight game while recovering from a concussion.

Spread: pitt by 4.5. (That’s it?! Wow, how things change after one game. Is half their team sick? I did hear the line opened at -6 so it is moving VT’s way.)

Tech looks to avoid their first ever 0-7 start in ACC play on Tuesday night when they host the pitt panthers.

Luckily, the Hokies won’t have to chew on that bad taste in their mouth from the uva loss for very long, returning to the court just 52 hours after falling to the hoos.  And the other good news is Tech’s schedule lightens up a lot after playing four straight teams ranked in the AP top 13.  Of Tech’s first 6 ACC games, they’ve played the first, second, third, fourth, and (tied for) fifth place teams.  Only fsu isn’t at the top of the league.  In the Hokies’ next 6 games, they’ll play the 9th (tied), 13th, 4th, 11th, 15th, and 9th (tied) place teams.  If they cannot get a win in this stretch, things will really start getting hairy in terms of avoiding a winless conference slate, as Tech closes with 4 games against ranked teams in their final 6 contests.

The pitt panthers roll in a little less strong than you expect from a Jamie Dixon club, lacking a true star.  Dixon’s won at least 20 games in each of his previous 11 seasons at pitt, including 10 NCAA appearances.  pitt was 26-10 / 11-7 last year in their first year in the ACC.  But this year they sit at just 13-7 and 3-4 in the league, with 20 wins and/or a NCAA Tourney bid in some serious jeopardy (pitt’s RPI is 66… VT’s is 224).

pitt is coming off consecutive losses, although they were at #5 duke and home vs #10 louisville on Sunday.  pitt has also lost to hawaii, san diego state, indiana, at nc state, and clemson.  But all of those losses are top top 100 teams except for hawaii, so don’t get too excited.  Tech hasn’t beaten a team rated higher than 188 (md-eastern shore) in the RPI.

That said, there were a lot of positives on Sunday for the Hokies.  They hung with, if not outplayed, the #2 team for most of the game… except the beginning and the end (two pretty important parts).  There was a fired up crowd on hand.  They played good defense.  They found ways to score without Bibbs… for 30 minutes.

Can they repeat that formula on Tuesday?  We’ll see.  And I’m sure the crowd won’t be anywhere near the same, so Tech will have to create some of their own energy.

The biggest factor, to me, is the start.  In each of VT’s 6 conference games they have fallen behind by 10+ points within the first 15 minutes.  They’ve led just twice in the first half of ACC games, and both leads were in the first 3 minutes.  Before the uva game, they had trailed by at least 8 points (and up to 19) at the half.  If the Hokies can actually come out and be competitive it will make things a whole lot easier for them, and keep them from having to exert so much energy just to get back in the game.

#2 6’9″ 235 lbs. sophomore Michael Young leads pitt, and should have a big game against the undersized Hokies.  He leads pitt with 13.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG.  #1 Jamel Artis (10.9) and #0 James Robinson (10.1) are the only other panthers that average double digits.  (yeesh, this is the second time this year you just had to look for low numbers to see another team’s top scorers)

pitt does have beef inside, like most Big East teams did, and all but one of their top 5 scorers are 6’5″ or taller, so they’ll present challenges for Tech.  But they aren’t a big time scoring team and don’t have any explosive scorers.

I won’t tell you they are the worst 3-point shooting team in the ACC, since I’ve said that 100 times before over the years and then that team proceeded to shoot 50% or better, but they are dead last… for now.  In fact, they’ve made just 24 threes in 7 league games, by far the lowest total in the league.  But these are also the two worst 3-point defenses in the league.

The key is if Tech can find some easy points (VT had just 3 fast break points vs uva), do a good job on the defensive glass (they did vs uva), and get some 2nd chances (they got just 1 offensive rebound vs uva).  Also, can VT take advantage of the worst 3-point shooting team in the league, and worst team at defending the 3?  Tech must finish with a huge margin in 3s made and percentage to have a chance to win this game.

Team Stats: (in ACC games only)

  • pitt (ACC rank) / Stat / VT (ACC rank)
  • 64.1 (11) / PPG / 60.7 (12)
  • 69.6 (11) / Opp PPG / 72.5 (14)
  • 74% (2) / FT% / 62% (14)
  • 40% (10) / FG% / 39% (13)
  • 47% (14) / Opp FG% / 45% (12)
  • 27% (15) / 3-Pt% / 35% (8)
  • 43% (15) / Opp 3-Pt% / 39% (14)
  • 2.7 (13) / Blocks / 2.7 (14)
  • 5.6 (t-7) / Steals / 4.5 (11)
  • +3.1 (1) / Turnover Margin / +0.5 (7)
  • 64% (14) / Def Reb % / 59% (15)
  • 35% (4) / Off Reb % / 22% (15)

Series:

  • All-Time: pitt 6-3
  • In ACC: pitt 1-0 (beat VT in OT at pitt last year)
  • Streak: pitt has won 5 straight (they were 4-0 vs VT in Big East play including a win in the 2004 Big East Tournament, Tech’s last game in the league)
  • At VT: VT 2-1 (though the wins were in 1966 and 1980)

Posted in Home5 Comments

Game Log: #2 uva (7-0, 19-0) 50, Hokies (0-6, 8-11) 47

Recap:

Boxscore

Score at Media Timeouts

Score at Media Timeouts

Adam Smith had his NBA range 3-pointer hit the rim twice before popping out at the buzzer, and the Hokies lost a heartbreaker 50-47 at the Cassell to #2 and undefeated uva.  This one hurts, but that’s a good thing after becoming numb to losses recently.

Tech, who hadn’t led after the 17 minute mark of the first half in their previous 6 games, led for most of the second half.  In fact, they used a 16-0 run in the first half of the 2nd half to go up by 10, 43-33 over the hoos and lead for 13 straight minutes until 3 minutes to go in the game.

But the Hokies scored just 4 points in the final 10:43 of the game, dooming them to their 6th straight defeat to uva (and uva’s 5th straight win at VT).  Tech looked young and inexperienced down the stretch, turning the ball over too often, and give uva credit for taking advantage of that, going on an 7-0 run with VT up 45-43 after the final media timeout.

With leading scorer Justin Bibbs still out with a concussion, Adam Smith led the way for VT with 15 points.  Malik Muller added 9 and Devin Wilson and Ahmed Hill had 7 each.

uva was led by Justin Anderson’s 12, including a critical 5 points to tie the game at 45 and then put uva up 48-45 on a 3-pointer.  No other wahoo reached double digits.

VT shot 45% for the game compared to just 35% for the hoos.  And the Hokies were 5/19 from deep compared to uva’s 6/18.  Turnovers were basically even, too (14 for VT, 13 for uva).  And this was uva’s lowest point output in ACC play this year (and 2nd lowest of the season).  Give a lot of credit to Tech’s defense.

But virginia hit 10/12 free throws (83%) while VT hit just 4/7 (57%).

uva also had 12 offensive rebounds (38% offensive rebounding percentage) compared to just 1 for the Hokies (4%).  38% isn’t that bad, especially for the undersized Hokies.  But 4% on the offensive glass for VT considering all the 3s they missed?  That shows why the hoos win.

This may sound like the words of a loser, but at least this was fun.  The Hokies absolutely played their hearts out for 40 minutes, but just came up a little short, as you’d expect against a veteran, #2 team.  It got the capacity crowd of 9,847, VT’s first sellout since the final game of the 2011-12 season, into the action.  No one left this game bitter they came.  And that will help attendance growing forward which will energize our troops.

Game Flow:

The Hokies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in front of the capacity crowd on an Ahmed Hill jumper just 23 seconds into the game.  That may not sound like much, but it snapped a string of more than 198 consecutive minutes of play where the Hokies never led (dating back to 3 minutes into the florida state game when Tech led for 15 seconds, their only previous lead in ACC play).

The lead didn’t last long.  Malcolm Brogdon hit a 3-pointer on the next possession and uva went on a 9-0 run to go ahead 9-2.  Here we go again, we thought.  Tech did battle and kept the margin around 7 for the next 10 minutes until uva went up 24-13 with 6:57 to go in the first half.  The Hokies have now trailed by double digits in the first 15 minutes of all 6 ACC games.

Then, the unthinkable happened.  The Hokies made the pack-fudge defense look like a sieve.  A Wilson 3-point play, a Muller layup, a Smith 3-pointer, and a Pierce dunk spurred a 10-0 run for the Hokies and they were within 1 point at 24-23 against the hated hoos.

The teams traded baskets and then Tech had 3 possessions to take the lead, but turned it over each time.

Tech wouldn’t score for a 4-minute stretch, but luckily uva tallied just 4 points.  Adam Smith closed the half with a hanging, floating runner with a man right on his hip to make it 30-27 uva at the break, giving him 8 points to lead VT (uva allowed just 28 points the whole game in their last contest vs georgia tech).  This was the closest VT had been at the half in ACC play (-19, -8, -19, -13, -10).

The second half started with another Brogdon 3-pointer to put uva up 33-27.  Then… we… went… nuts!  The Hokies went on a 16-0 over the next 8:20.  Sixteen-to-zippy.  No, this time it wasn’t the Hokies that went scoreless for 5, 6, 7, 8 straight minutes.  It was the #2 hoos.

Thanks to 7 points from Adam Smith and 5 points from Malik Muller, Tech went ahead 43-33 before a Perrantes 3-pointer cut the lead to 7.

This marked Tech’s first lead in the 2nd half since December 27th against presbyterian.

And then the two teams switched droughts… Tech started taking the air out of the ball on offense and it certainly hurt the flow.  After Wilson’s layup to make it 43-33 with 10:43 to go, the Hokies scored just 2 points over the next 9 minutes and 40 seconds.

The Hokies led 45-43 at the final media timeout with under 4 minutes to play, and then the wheels came off.  uva got an alley-oop dunk to Justin Anderson to tie the game at 45.  A missed 3-pointer by Smith was followed by a 3-pointer by Anderson.  A turnover followed for VT and a put-back basket for Anthony Gill for uva, and the hoos were rolling up 50-45.

Ahmed Hill got a 3-point play opportunity (but missed the free throw) with 1:06 to go to break their dry spell and cut the uva lead to 50-47.

After a uva miss and VT rebound, Tech had the ball with a chance to tie, but Will Johnston didn’t realize he was wide open and passed to Malik Muller in the corner, and just like against syracuse, Muller wasn’t able to convert (his 3-pointer was blocked).

uva missed the front end of a one-and-one and Tech called a timeout in the front court with 6.8 seconds to go.  uva burned their foul to give with 5.2 to go.  Adam Smith’s NBA range 3-pointer from the top of the key hit the rim twice and popped out, and VT lost 50-47.

Tech returns to action Tuesday night at home against pittsburgh.

Notes:

  • Justin Bibbs sat for the 3rd game in a row while recovering from a concussion and likely won’t play Tuesday vs pitt.
  • VT wore pink jerseys in honor of breast cancer awareness.
  • In Tech’s 3 ACC home games, they’ve missed a 3-pointer to win at the buzzer, lost by 25, and missed a 3 to tie at the horn.

Preview:

Update: Bibbs will not play today and is unlikely to play Tuesday vs pitt.

Here’s your preview:

  • uva is really good
  • We aren’t

There you go, I just saved you 15 minutes.

To be honest, I haven’t watched the hoos play all year.  It’s tough enough to watch the Hokies play every single minute and analyze that, I couldn’t stomach also watching the defending ACC champions and undefeated hoos.  Even with Akil Mitchell and Joe Harris (Cleveland Cavs) gone, they’ve become even better thanks to Justin Anderson (14.1 PPG) and Malcolm Brogdon (13.6 PPG), and the pack-fudge defense of Tony Bennett, and a cast of characters that buys into the defense-first concept.

I do know that:

  • VT just lost by 25 to notre dame
  • VT hasn’t led in a game in 2-1/2 weeks, or 197 minutes and 39 seconds of game action
  • uva just held georgia tech to 28 points… for the whole game… and beat them by 29

The only hoo basketball I watch is Mike Smith (former hoo who torched the Hokies for 5 seasons… yes, 5) for my beloved Atlanta Hawks, the top team in the Eastern Conference by far.

While this is as bad of a discrepancy between the teams as there has been since VT joined the ACC, we should know there will be brighter days ahead.  Just look at 4 years ago — uva was finishing up their 6th season in 7 years with a losing record in ACC play.  The Hokies capped their 5th winning season in ACC play in 7 years since joining the league.  Now, the tables have turned.

Yes, we are taking it on the chin in Buzz’s first year with extreme turnover on the roster, but Bennett did the exact same thing at uva.  His first season in hooville they went 15-16 and 5-11.  The next year they went 16-15 and 7-9 with tons of attrition.  People were starting to question if he was the answer because several of their top skill players (guys who didn’t want to play in a team-first/defensive juggernaut) were bolting for places where they could jack up 20 shots per game.

While I don’t foresee us being #2 in the nation five years from now in the Barbara Walters season, I do hope that we can become relevant again in the ACC and at least be a .500 team in conference each year under Buzz.  I hope.

No word yet on if Justin Bibbs will play, but we do know JvZ’s days are done, and he’s already off the roster.

Perhaps someone will ‘accidentally’ sets off the fire alarm in the Inn Saturday night at 3 AM forcing the hoos outside, like back in February of 2007 (disclaimer: no, I’m not condoning this, and I don’t even know if uva still stays there).  That happened on Friday night 2/9/2007 thanks to some buddies of mine (and it was a drunken accident).  Tech went on to beat uva 84-57 the next day in a noon tilt!

Series:

  • All-time: uva 86-53
  • In ACC: uva 13-8
  • Streak: uva 5 straight wins (not quite up to 11 like us over them in football, but it is getting close)
  • uva has won 4 straight in Blacksburg over the Hokies, before that, VT was 14-2 all-time in the Cassell against the hoos and 5-1 in ACC games at VT (now 5-5)

Note: The two T/techs are a combined 0-11 in ACC play this year.  bc and VT are at 0-5 with ga tech in last at 0-6.

Posted in Home4 Comments

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2014-2015 Schedule/Results

November

11/14 - Hokies 71, md. eastern shore 46
11/19 - Hokies 73, liberty 63
11/22 - appalachian state 65, Hokies 63
**********
Cancun Classic
11/25 - n. iowa 73, Hokies 54
11/26 - Hokies 78, miami ohio 63
**********
11/30 - Hokies 83, morgan state 63

December

12/03 - penn state 61, Hokies 58
12/07 - radford 68, Hokies 66
12/14 - Hokies 65, alabama a&m 55
12/20 - Hokies 64, the citadel 61
12/22 - Hokies 87, vmi 74
12/27 - Hokies 87, presbyterian 65
12/30 - west virginia 82, Hokies 51

January

01/03 - syracuse 68, Hokies 66
01/06 - louisville 78, Hokies 63
01/18 - unc 68, Hokies 53
01/22 - notre dame 85, Hokies 60
01/25 - uva 50, Hokies 47
01/27 - Hokies 70, pittsburgh 67
01/31 - wake forest 73, Hokies 70

February

02/03 - syracuse 72, Hokies 70
02/07 - vs. fsu | 3pm, ACCN
02/09 - vs. georgia tech | 9pm, ESPNU
02/14 - @ clemson | Noon, RSN
02/18 - @ miami | 7pm, RSN
02/21 - @ nc state | 6pm, ESPN2
02/25 - vs. duke | 9pm, ESPN2
02/28 - @ uva | 4pm, ACCN

March

03/02 - vs. boston college | 9pm, ESPNU
03/07 - vs. miami | Noon, RSN
**********
ACC Tournament
03/10 - 1st rd.
03/11 - 2nd rd.
03/12 - quarterfinals
03/13 - semifinals
03/14 - championship

Photos on flickr