Recap: For the first 29 minutes of this game, if there had been a barn inside Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech would not have been able to hit the broad side of it. If there had been water in the Cassell and the Hokies had been in a boat and fallen out, they wouldn’t have hit said H2O. What am I trying to say? The Hokies could not hit a jumper, or free throw, to save their life for the first 75% of this game. The Hokies missed their first 12 three-point attempts and finished just 1 of 13. And although Tech was confused and stagnant at times against the 2-3 zone the spartans ran approximately half the time, VT almost missed some very open looks after hitting 7 of 17 threes in the first game. If you break down the stats, Tech hit just two shots outside the paint all night – 44 points in the paint + 10 free throws = just five points left, a three by Delaney and another jumper by Malcolm from the left side. From the charity stripe they weren’t much better, hitting 10 of 18 (56%) for the second game in a row.
Then, a big time player stepped up. I’m talking about Mr. Malcolm Delaney, of course. Delaney scored nine points and had another key assist as the Hokies went on an 11-0 run from the 10:48 mark of the second half until the 5:12 mark. Going into that run, the game was tied (yes, you read that correctly, VT was tied at 38 against a 20 point underdog that just lost to duke by 34). After that run, unc-g-spot never got closer than nine points and Tech cruised to victory, although early in the game it looked like the Hokie-wagon might be completely broken down.
In addition to the tight score for much of the night, Tech had an even bigger scare earlier in the game. Malcolm Delaney suffered a left ankle injury at the 12-minute mark of the first half after scoring on a runner and collapsed in front of the VT bench after hobbling up the court. He left the game for a few minutes while the trainers taped the ankle up and Delaney managed to play 28 of the final 29 minutes of the game. He finished the game with 17 points and five assists, both team highs. And once again, when the Hokies needed him, he was clutch despite starting out the game 3 of 12 from the floor.
Jeff Allen also had a monster night for the Hokies. He recorded the 20th double-double of his VT career, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. If that wasn’t enough, he also had six steals and three blocks. The six steals tied his career high and he now has 138 robberies for his career, just 13 away from 10th place on the all-time Hokie steal list. Allen also had the highlight of the night: midway through the first half he stole the ball out of a trap by the half court line, dribbled up the left side with his left hand, palmed the ball left-handed and flushed it with his off-hand. It reminded me of an old Dr. J “rock the baby to sleep” dunk.
On defense, the Hokies were fantastic in the second half. They held the spartans to just 29% shooting (7/24) and uncg hit just 35% of their shots for the game. That was a big improvement over the 45% brown shot on Sunday. Tech also forced the spartans into 23 turnovers for the game including 10 steals. Imagine what the score might have been after 29 minutes if VT hadn’t created so many turnovers. The Hokies used those steals to get out and run some, though they did not get a ton of easy buckets.
Tech limited uncg’s star, Ben Stywall, to just six points on 3 of 9 shooting. He had 19 against duke. And last year’s leading scorer, Mikko Koivisto – the Finnish Fury, had 10 points in the first half but did not score in the second half. In fact, Mikko didn’t even get a shot off as ‘Zo Hudson and Terrell Bell took him out of the game. T-Bell looks very good defending one-on-one.
You certainly aren’t going to hit the panic button after two games but Virginia Tech has not looked good after two games. And this was at home against two teams that went a combined 14-44 last year. On Sunday, the Hokies were not impressive on defense and seemed to lack a flow on offense. Delaney was forcing too much at times. Today, the defense was better but the offense was abysmal. There are some real concerns on offense for this team. After two games, Tech is just 20/36 (56%) from the foul line. But if you take out Delaney’s 10/12 from the line, they are just 10/24 (42%). As bad as they were from long range tonight, they were good from outside on Sunday so let’s not make a huge deal other than to say they were colder than a January night in the ‘Burg tonight.
- Tech has 48 points off turnovers through two games. Their opponents have just 12.
- An amazing 44 of Tech’s 59 points were in the paint tonight. That’s what happens when you are 1/13 from downtown. If you add the 10 free throws the Hokies made, that means they hit just TWO baskets outside the paint.
- Gene Swindle and Manny Atkins made their Hokie debuts in the final minute of the game.
- The other freshmen, Ben Boggs and Erick Green, each saw time in both halves. Ben continues to see the most minutes of the freshmen playing the 2 or the 3 for Hudson or Bell. He had two points in this game but got caught inside out of control a couple of times and lost possession or had his shot blocked. Boggs was just 1 of 4 from the floor. He needs to pick his spots to drive better or dish earlier.
- Victor Davila still is not aggressive enough inside. On one offensive rebound he brough the ball down and promptly had it stolen. Other times he was out-muscled for boards by smaller guys. Also, he is getting caught too far under the basket at times. When he goes up to shoot, he has to jump back into play and he got blocked a couple of times. But he did have six big second half points for the Hokies and eight overall for the second game in a row.
- Terrell Bell has played well through two games. He’s replacing A.D. Vassallo but in a very different way – lots of defense. He had career highs tonight with eight rebounds, three blocks, and two steals, and he has averaged 7 ppg through two games.
- JT Thompson looked more like himself tonight in the second half. He went hard at the rim and picked up six points. But he has zero confidence in his jump shot right now (join the club on this team).
- Tech’s bench scored just eight points tonight in 37 minutes. They now have just 15 points through two games. The Hokie starters (Bell, Hudson, Delaney, Allen, and Davila) have accounted for 88% of VT’s points, and Allen and Delaney have scored 54% of the Hokie points so far.
- The Hokies are averaging 64 ppg this year through the two games. That’s 9 ppg lower than last year, or put another way, half the points A.D. Vassallo used to score. They have not even come close to picking up his lost offense so far.
- Tech has outscored their opponents 23-4 in fast break points through two games.
- unc-g-spot has scored just 85 points in their last two games against Tech. Tonight was the closest margin of victory in the six games they’ve lost to VT all-time.
- Cope’s good buddy Ted Valentine was a referee in this game!