The Virginia Tech Hokies travelled to Provo, Utah to face the BYU Cougars with the goal of flying back to Blacksburg knowing that they would get to play one more game in Cassell Coliseum for a chance to go to Madison Square Garden. The Hokies left in all on the court and Provo, but it was unfortunately not enough.
BYU took down the Hokies 80-77 in what was a very exciting game with both teams making lots of shots down the stretch with neither team being able to go on a significant run to create any separation beyond a two-possession lead. The Hokies finish their breakthrough season at 20-15 with most believing now that this team can definitely return to the NCAA Tournament next season.
The Hokies dominated the glass in Provo winning the rebounding battle 45-34 and 16-9 on the offensive glass against a BYU team that was a top 20 rebounding team this past season. The Hokies had 6 more turnovers than BYU on the night and shot under 5-of-23 from beyond the arc plus 12-of-21 from the free-throw line which proved costly as BYU shot 8-of-17 from deep and 24-of-34 from the free-throw line.
Zach LeDay ended his breakout season with a great performance as the junior forward had 17 points, 14 rebounds including 7 offensive rebounds, and 4 blocks. LeDay didn’t have the best night shooting the ball going 6-of-17 from the field and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc, but LeDay gave the Hokies plenty of second chances and had a great night blocking shots.
After struggling against Princeton, Seth Allen had an efficient night leading the Hokies with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting along with 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 1 rebound. Allen struggled shooting the ball most of the season, but if he can build on this strong shooting performance heading into next season, the Hokies could be even better than many think right now.
Kerry Blackshear has a very bright future and it showed in the second half against BYU as Blackshear began to dominate inside the paint with the freshman having 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting overall along with 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 assists. Blackshear hasn’t been the most consistent with his scoring outbursts, but the freshman forward has gotten better and better, and has the potential to be a very dangerous player next season.
Chris Clarke’s toughness showed again with a strong 9 points and 7 rebounds while Justin Bibbs struggled from beyond the arc and had 6 points. Justin Robinson struggled in the NIT overall compared to the way he finished the regular season with 6 points and 3 assists while Jalen Hudson only had 4 points and 4 rebounds after having 28 against Princeton, and Devin Wilson had 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
A long offseason is now ahead for the Hokies along with speculation about whether Buzz Williams may take a job closer to home or not, but what is clear is that the future is very bright in Blacksburg, and that this team can definitely get to the NCAA Tournament next season.