Box Score – The spread for this game was 22 points and that was before the odds makers knew that Virginia Tech’s leading scorer, Justin Bibbs, would sit out the game after suffering a concussion during Friday’s practice. So, considering the Hokies were without their leading scorer and their most experienced big man (JvZ is still suspended indefinitely), and playing a top 15 team on the road, a 15-point loss (and covering the spread) isn’t all bad.
The Hokies fell 68-53 to the unc tar heels in Chapel Hill. Senior Adam Smith led Tech with 11 points, while true freshman Shane Henry nearly notched his first collegiate double-double with a career-high 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Tech went down 0-7 right out of the gate (shocking, we know), but answered with a 9-2 run to tie the game up. The Hokies never looked solid in this game, but neither did the tar heels. How much of that was old Roy taking the Hokies too lightly and how much was Buzz’s guys playing hard on defense, we’ll never know for sure, but Buzz had his team as ready as they could be and they showed NO quit.
The tar heels looked to have blown the game open with a 11-0 that began mid-first quarter and powered unc to a 34-21 halftime lead. A second half blowout looked imminent. All Tech had to do was fold. But they didn’t. Tech dug in their heels (ha!) and refused to let the home team run away with a win. They were going to make them earn it. What made the outcome of this game even more surprising was that Buzz essentially played only 8 guys. Christian Beyer played just 5 minutes. Everyone else was at least 20.
Poor shooting doomed the Hokies. They shot an abysmal 45% from the free throw line including 1-7 in the first half. That’s just unacceptable. The last time I wrote a recap (syracuse), the orange had made nearly as many FTs as the Hokies attempted. Tonight, that was exactly the case. Tech attempted 11 FTs, while the tar heels made 11 FTs. From the field, VT shot 35.8% (19/53) and that’s not going to win you very many games.
Tech fought hard and eventually cut the lead down to 8 points with about 2 minutes to play. It wouldn’t be enough in the end, but all things considered, this was a gutsy effort by Buzz Williams’ inaugural Hokie squad. The Hokies may be down this year, but opponents are going to have to earn a W against this VT team.
And now for a new segment I like to call, “Stats that Niemo texted me!”
- Our 13 steals tonight were a season high by far (previous was 9)
- We made more 3s (10) than 2s (9). Also a first this year.
Spread: unc by 22 (Ouch. Merited, but still hard to stomach game after game)
The Hokies continue their murderous stretch on Sunday night, heading to Chapel Hill to face the #15 unc tar heels. After facing #6 louisville on the road, Tech has this game at unc, then #12 notre dame and #2 uva at home this coming week.
unc has won two in a row a row since losing by 1 point at home to notre dame. unc beat louisville at home last weekend 72-71, overcoming a 13-point deficit with 9 minutes to go, winning on a Marcus Paige shot with 8.5 seconds to go (and two subsequent misses by the cards). Then, the heels held on for a 81-79 win this week across the Triangle at nc state (though unc controlled this game).
The Hokies are 13-64 all time vs unc. Tech is just 5-29 at unc, but won their first ever ACC game there 81-80 back in 2007 to complete a season sweep of the heels. Tech has won just once in their last 10 games against the heels and are just 3-11 against the heels since joining the ACC.
The heels are led by ACC Preseason First Teamer Marcus Paige, who averages 13.9 PPG. He’s 2nd on the team in assists per game at 3.9 and tied for steals at 1.2. unc has five guys averaging between 9 and 14 points.
Team Stats: (VT – Stat – unc)
- 69.0 – PPG – 79.6
- 66.9 – Opp PPG – 65.6
- 61% – FT% – 71%
- 47.0% – FG% – 45.7%
- 41.0% – Opp FG% – 36.6%
- 40.5% – 3-Pt% – 32.0%
- 6.8 – 3s Made – 4.8
- 33.2% – Opp 3-Pt% – 26.7%
- 3.9 – Blocks – 4.8
- 12.1 – Assists – 17.9
- 4.4 – Steals – 7.3
- 62% – Def Reb % – 67%
- 30% – Off Reb % – 44%
The heels dominate the Hokies in every stat except 3-point shooting. Tech is #2 in 3-Point % and 4th in 3s made per game, but unc in #1 in the league in 3-Point % defense. Obviously the undersized Hokies need to be hot from deep to stay competitive, so they must find a way to beat the solid unc defense.
Both teams are awful on the defensive glass, with unc 14th in defensive rebound % and Tech last. But the heels, oddly, are the best offensive rebounding team in the league. The heels should have no problem getting their misses back. This could be another game where the only time Tech keeps their opponent from scoring is when they turn the ball over or a miss bounces out of bounds.