The Virginia Tech Hokies opened the Wooden Legacy with an interesting matchup against the New Mexico Lobos that many expected to be fairly competitive which it was for about 15 minutes. Once the Hokies started to get a small lead, Virginia Tech really got things going for them and made their first statement this year on Thanksgiving day.
The Hokies blew out New Mexico 92-72 to advance to the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy where they will face Texas A&M who beat Cal State Northridge in the Wooden Legacy opener. Virginia Tech was seen as the favorite but no one expected the Hokies to be as dominant as they were against a Lobos team that could make the NIT this season.
Justin Robinson was the star of this game for the Hokies making big shots and setting up his teammates throughout the game on a way to one of the best games of his career with 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 block while also having no turnovers or fouls in 40 minutes. Robinson made a big three right before halftime that helped give the Hokies a little extra momentum but throughout the game, Robinson plays with lots of intensity and aggression while having one of the best shooting performances of his career.
Robinson won’t likely shoot this well in other games, but the sophomore has continued to develop into a great ball distributor, tough defender, and aggressive player that is unafraid to attack the rim. Robinson’s individual performance today will also bring him the recognition he deserves as a smart, tough basketball player that always finds ways to make an impact.
Having a healthy Ahmed Hill has also been a big boost as he is Virginia Tech’s best wing and could possibly be the best player on this team over talented seniors Zach LeDay and Seth Allen. Hill was once again quite effective with 18 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds on 6-for-11 shooting including 3-for-7 from beyond the arc and 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. Hill has given the Hokies a great all-around scoring wing to compliment the talented three-point shooting of Justin Bibbs and create more space for him that is benefiting both players this season.
Bibbs was also productive in this game as he had 13 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 rebound while shooting 3-for-6 from beyond the arc while Zach LeDay had a solid game with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and 1 block and despite his rebounding being down, Virginia Tech still won the rebounding battle 35-31 while only being beat 11-10 in offensive rebounds.
The main reasons for the Hokies’ rebounding success were Khadim Sy and Chris Clarke who were great on the glass as Sy had 10 rebounds plus 4 points while Clarke had 9 rebounds along with 8 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block plus no turnovers. Seth Allen was quiet with 7 points and 1 steal though he was efficient going 3-for-4 from the field including making his only three-pointer while Ty Outlaw had 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist.
Virginia Tech did two things quite well today as they went 19-for-20 from the free-throw line while also going 11-for-24 from beyond the arc. Both of these facets are big parts of the Hokies’ offense especially free throws and with Virginia Tech now having multiple quality three-point shooters to go with their attack the rim and get to the line offense, the Hokies may be more dangerous on the offensive end than we thought they could be especially when they’re making 95% of their free throws.
Virginia Tech also did a great job of limiting their turnovers against at a solid defensive team with only 8 turnovers including no turnovers from three starters (Justin Robinson, Chris Clarke, Ahmed Hill). Virginia Tech also played with the high level of intensity that is exactly what Buzz Williams wants and will when them a lot of basketball games this season.
Virginia Tech now has a chance to get another quality win against a Texas A&M team that may be the second-best team in a weak SEC with plenty of size in the frontcourt to gives the Hokies some concerns. However, Virginia Tech has some size with Khadim Sy that could help prevent that from being as big of an advantage as they thought while the Hokies are firing on all cylinders offensively.
Virginia Tech came out firing in the Wooden Legacy with a statement victory over a solid New Mexico team that could be NIT-bound. This is how you begin to build a resume to make the NCAA Tournament and even get a solid seed.
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