The Virginia Tech Hokies entered today’s game with a four-game winning streak, but faced their toughest opponent since their ACC-Big 10 Challenge overtime loss to Northwestern in the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. On paper, this projected to be a close game but that would be not the case in this final game before Christmas.
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks were in control for most of the game and beat the Hokies 79-62 in a game that never really felt close. Virginia Tech’s biggest issues came on the glass where they were outrebounded 48-32 and gave up 19 offensive rebounds to a Saint Joseph’s team that shot worse than Virginia Tech (VT-40,3%, SJU-39.4%).
The Hokies were unable to slow down Saint Joseph’s two top scorers with Isaiah Miles having 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocks; and DeAndre Bembry having 22 points and 7 rebounds. It was critical for the Hokies to try and slow down this senior duo, but Virginia Tech was unable to, and that helped Saint Joseph’s win this game comfortably.
The Hokies brought a decent level of intensity, but that will have to improve in order for them to achieve some of the higher aspirations they have including making the run at the NIT or even the NCAA Tournament. Virginia Tech also has to get better on the glass with the Hawks exposing some rebounding concerns after getting 19 offensive rebounds.
One positive for the Hokies is the fact that Seth Allen seems to be getting back in rhythm as a shooter after having 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Allen has played some of his best basketball against Virginia Tech’s best opponents, and having the junior guard heat up now from outside should help create space for Justin Bibbs.
After having a career-high 31 points, Bibbs struggled as he was not able to get many opportunities on the outside and only had 8 points on 4-of-9 shooting while missing both of his three-point attempts. Bibbs had one of his worst games of the season, and the Hokies will need him to bounce back to have a decent chance at pulling off an upset in eight days against West Virginia.
Zach LeDay had some struggles on the defensive end guarding Isaiah Miles, but still had a decent game otherwise with his seventh of the double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) of the season. Justin Robinson had a solid start with 5 early points, but 4 fouls limited his playing time and overall effect on the game.
Jalen Hudson and Chris Clarke both had 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting from inside the arc while Hudson missed all four of his three-point attempts. Kerry Blackshear struggled in this game and only had 4 and 3 rebounds while Johnny Hamilton returned from suspension and had 2 blocks in 9 minutes.
The Hokies return to action in eight days against a ranked West Virginia team in front of what will be a sellout crowd at Cassell Coliseum, but Virginia Tech better be ready to play at a high level of energy and intensity or a loss could be coming.