The Virginia Tech Hokies returned to Cassell on Sunday night, playing against a Boston College team that has only won a couple ACC games, but played several good teams right down to the final buzzer. It didn’t start that way, but eventually, this game ended the same way.
The Hokies started extremely hot, making their first seven shots and jumped out to a 19-11 lead before LeDay missed a layup with 12:45 left in the first half. With about 8 minutes left in the 1st half, the Hokies were shooting a scorching 91% from the field. One of the highlights during that hot start was Outlaw making his first two shots — something he’s struggled with all year.
The only player that kept Boston College in the game in the first half was Jordan Chatman. He entered the game averaging around 7 points/game, but ended the half with 21 points, most of them coming from his 6-6 start from the three point line. Without Chatman, this game would’ve been over by halftime and wouldn’t have been close later on.
The Eagles star player, Ky Bowman, started the game with seven straight misses. Whether it was nerves, or travel, or the student section calling his red hair “cheeto head”, he seemed rattled in the first half.
The Hokies went into halftime on a buzzer beater by Justin Bibbs and led 47-36. The shot by Bibbs was basically him just catching the ball and throwing it towards the general vicinity of the basket. Luckily for him and the Hokies, it rolled around the rim and in.
After the half, it was all Boston College to start off. Chatman hit two early threes to tie the record for three-pointers made against VT, and the lead got cut down to 57-52 with around 14 minutes left. However, the Hokies went on a mini 6-0 run and forced the BC coach to call timeout with just over 12 minutes left.
After that, it was a back and forth game for the rest of the contest. The closest the game ever got was within a single point around the under-8 media timeout. Clarke scored a tough layup, and Bibbs hit a corner three to open the lead up again after that, and it never got that close again.
Chatman set the record for most three pointers made against Virginia Tech with just around two minutes left in the game, but then promptly missed his next attempt. However, his performance — 9/11 from three, 10/12 from the field, and 30 points — is one of the best I, or any other writers, have seen in Cassell in a long time. Bowman woke up from his sleepy start and recorded a double double, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 17 points.
Stat leaders for this game were Seth Allen/Justin Bibbs with 18 points, Zach LeDay with an additional 17 points, and Allen grabbing 6 rebounds and dishing 4 assists. Chris Clarke had a quiet statistical night, but his presence is felt every time he’s on the court.
There are several things that Buzz Williams and the Hokies can take away from this game.
- Clarke is the best player on this team. It’s apparent when he gets in the open court and shows off that “extra gear” that no-one else on the team has. It doesn’t make sense to me for him to still be sitting on the bench at the start of the game, but it might be advantageous for him to enter the game in the middle of a run.
The Hokies need to improve their defense. This is the third straight game where it seems like someone is having a career day from behind the arc. The zone defense that Buzz has been playing a lot is sloppy and slow to rotate to the back side three pointer. If the Hokies want to have a chance against UVA on Wednesday, their defense needs to improve massively. Boston College had 12 offensive rebounds, which cannot happen against the Cavaliers. Otherwise, that environment will eat them alive.
– Buzz Williams recorded his 200th career win tonight, which is a big accomplishment. Hokie fans should be grateful that he’s here for that milestone. Additionally, even if we lose every game for the rest of the regular season, the Hokies won’t end with a losing season. Given the state of the program three years ago, that is a big deal.
The Hokies travel to Charlottesville on Wednesday to take on the #12 Virginia Cavaliers (that ranking will change tomorrow morning). The game starts at 8 PM and will be televised by the ACC Network. Virginia lost to #1 Villanova today on a buzzer beater after blowing a double-digit lead. Hokie fans can hope that there will be some kind of hangover from that, but they should expect Tony Bennett to have the Cavs ready for a big rivalry game.