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.
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
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.
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).
- 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.