Tonight, the Virginia Tech Hokies returned to Cassell Coliseum to start the third season of the Buzz Williams era with the hopes of avoiding a major upset like last year’s season-opening home loss to Alabama State. The good news was the Hokies were able to avoid having a bad loss to start the season.
Virginia Tech comfortably beat Maine 80-67 in a game that tightened a fair amount in the final few minutes as the Hokies went a little farther down the bench and didn’t have a true point guard on the floor. The Hokies had a slow start in the early minutes, but were able to find a rhythm rather quickly and open up and unsurprisingly, insurmountable margin.
The Hokies were sloppy at times, but had a solid performance overall with Virginia Tech having a 10-point lead at halftime and being poised to beat Maine by possibly 25 or 30 if it wasn’t for the Hokies wanting to get some backups and younger players extra playing time.
Zachc LeDay was the star of this gam as the senior big men picked up his first double-double of the season with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 assists as LeDay’s hard-working, physical style once again showed and helped the Hokies make some big things happen. LeDay picked up right where he left up off in what was everything the Hokies could have wanted from LeDay.
Ahmed Hill made his return to college basketball after redshirting due to injury last year and was quite good with 14 points and 3 rebounds while going 3-for-6 from beyond the arc and being Virginia Tech’s best deep threat. Hill has taken the next steps since we saw and not only is reliable on the defensive end but is becoming a very good shooter.
Khadim Sy received high praise from Buzz Williams after the game after showing plenty of talent in his 15-minute debut with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Justin Robinson also made things happen for the Hokie as the freshman point guard had 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists while fellow ball-handler Seth Allen had 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in what was a quiet but steady game for Allen.
Chris Clarke also had a solid game overall for the Hokies as the junior forward was only 1 rebound away from a double-double with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists. Ty Outlaw struggled in his Virginia Tech debut with only 1 point thanks to a free throw plus 3 rebounds while Justin Bibbs also had a big shooting night going 2-for-5 from beyond the arc and 2-for-11 overall from the field with 6 points plus 3 assists and 2 rebounds with Johnny Hamilton and Matt Galloway playing limited minutes late.
For Buzz Williams, the Hokies still have some room to grow and some rust to knock off with the Hokies having some very sloppy moments but this was a great start for a team that can’t to afford to lose games like this. Virginia Tech still needs to do better than shooting under 31% from beyond the arc but the fact that Virginia Tech shot over 75% from the charity stripe is going to be critical for a team that will emphasize attacking the rim and drawing fouls.
After last year’s surprise upset, the Hokies were able to comfortably take care of business against Maine led by Zach LeDay and the return of Ahmed Hill.
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