Before the start of the 2015-2016 season, the Virginia Tech Hokies were picked 14th in the conference by the media with fans hoping to see some progress, but not expecting Virginia Tech to necessarily make the NIT or even have a .500 overall record let alone a conference record above .500.
Entering yesterday’s game, the Hokies had already surpassed expectations by a lot with a 17-13 record along with the guarantee of at least a .500 record in ACC play at 9-8 plus the chance to get the six seed in the ACC Tournament and being no lower than ninth after their preseason prediction of 14th would have made them the 13 seed at the Verizon Center.
The Hokies faced one of the top teams in the ACC and made a big statement with quite an impressive win.
Virginia Tech blew out #7 Miami 77-62 in what may have been the best game the Hokies have played all season to extend their winning streak to five and clinch the 6 seed in their final regular season game of the 2015-2016 season. The Hokies took the lead with 16:51 left in the first half and never looked back with Miami not even getting the lead to inside 10 points in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Offensively and defensively, the Hokies were dominant as they shot 52.9% from the field and beyond the arc while Miami shot 42.4% from the field and 16.7% from beyond the arc. Virginia Tech also only had 11 turnovers along with 15 assists compared to 14 turnovers and 10 assists for the seventh-ranked Hurricanes.
Justin Robinson had arguably the best game of his career so far with a dominant performance whether it would be scoring or dishing out plenty of assists with 15 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Robinson was quite good at attacking the rim and getting a layup, drawing a foul, or making a great pass. Robinson has taken his game to the next level over the past month and is a big reason for the five-game winning streak for the Hokies.
Zach LeDay continues to be consistently productive as he had another strong game with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc plus 3 rebounds and 3 blocks. Once again, LeDay brought tons of energy and effort to the floor along with taking advantage of getting some open three-point shots that he had struggled to get recently.
Justin Bibbs led the Hokies in scoring with 19 points on what was an impressive shooting performance as he went 7-for-10 from the field including 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. Bibbs hasn’t shot the ball as well from beyond the arc over the last few weeks, but this performance hopefully is a sign of better things to come ahead of some big games in Washington D.C.
Seth Allen didn’t have the most efficient day shooting the basketball, but got the job done at the charity stripe as he made all five of his free-throw attempts on his way to having 14 points along with 4 assists and 2 steals. Even with Allen not shooting the ball that well, the junior point guard has become quite valuable as a stabilizing veteran that has plenty of experience in playing in finishing ACC victories.
Kerry Blackshear and Chris Clarke were both solid for the Hokies bringing some good defense plus some solid production as Blackshear had 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal while Clarke had 4 rebounds and 1 assist. On his Senior Day, Shane Henry had a dunk and got a standing ovation when he was subbed out for the final time along with kissing the VT logo at midcourt.
Jalen Hudson played a little more in this game, but the sophomore guard only had four points while Devin Wilson brought some solid defense along with 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. With the game out of hand, Buzz Williams was also able to give walk-ons Greg Donlon and Matt Galloway some playing time for the final minute of the game.
Buzz Williams has done a tremendous job of coaching this team, and the Hokies are on fire at the right time heading into the ACC Tournament. Virginia Tech’s win also puts them in great position to make the NIT now along with giving them an outside chance of making the NCAA Tournament if they can put together a run to the final of the ACC Tournament.
The Hokies have exceeded even the highest of expectations in what was a great season after a start that included a loss to Alabama State in the season opener. One question that is currently unanswered is have the Hokies played their final game in Cassell Coliseum this season?