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.
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.
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.
- 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)
- 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 %
- 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.
- 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)