The Virginia Tech Hokies and Miami Hurricanes faced off tonight in a game in which both teams,were looking to gain a quality win especially the Hurricanes playing at home in an ACC where winning on the road has proven difficult especially for VT with only 1 ACC road win so far this season.
Unfortunately for the Hokies, they still only have 1 ACC road win.
Virginia Tech came up short 74-68 in a game that was close for much of the first half and some of the second half including for the final minute with the Hokies using an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 6 but never getting it closer than that.
Miami is now 6-5 in ACC plays and gains a quality win that should give them a little more breathing room relative to the bubble while the Hokies fall to 5-6 in the ACC and while they may drop a spot or 2 on the S-curve, they still ate comfortably in the NCAA Tournament field.
Rebounding and turnovers proved to be two big issues for the Hokies tonight as VT had 15 turnovers compared to 10 for Miami while Miami had 10 offensive rebounds compared to 4 for the Hokies. Those two issues and the Hokies having 25 free throws, compared to 13 for Miami, led to the Hurricanes having 18 more shots than the Hokies in what is simply a recipe for a loss along with Miami’s top scorers being just that with Davon Reed leading the way with 18 points and Ja’Quan Newton having 16 points.
The fact that the Hokies were able to keep it close for much of the game and bring the deficit down to single-digits is actually quite impressive given the large shot margin and was due in part to their quality free-throw shooting night of 20-for-25 from the free-throw line. The Hokies’ free-throw shooting is especially impressive coming on the road and is a positive for a team that won a couple games last year due to their ability to get to the line a lot and be productive upon getting there.
Justin Robinson led the Hokies tonight with 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 2 turnovers in what was a solid performance for Robinson outside of a late technical foul in which he lightly pushed a referee after making a 3 inside the final minute to cut the Miami lead to 6. Robinson’s push likely won’t lead to a suspension but the fact that he did touch him means you can’t rule it out.
However, Robinson’s solid night that included going 6-for-7 from the free-throw line is a positive especially after how the Hokies won games down the stretch last year when Robinson and Seth Allen were both aggressive in attacking the rim.
Zach LeDay had his best night on the glass in a while with his first double-double of 2017 (10 points, 10 rebounds) and only his third double-double of the season with the other two coming in the season opener against Maine and the third game against VMI though his 4 turnovers were a major disappointment for an experienced senior forward. Chris Clarke broke his offensive slump with 13 points along with 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in what was a solid performance outside of his three turnovers.
Ahmed Hill had 12 points and 5 rebounds but is continuing to struggle from beyond the arc as he went 1-for-5 from deep while Justin Bibbs only had 6 points but did go 2-for-4 from three-point range. Seth Allen had a down shooting night going 4-for-9 from the field and 10 total points plus 3 assists and 2 steals while Khadim Sy was solid in 10 minutes with 2 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 block with Ty Outlaw also playing 10 minutes and only picking up two fouls.
While the loss is disappointing, Virginia Tech definitely has plenty of breathing room still for the NCAA Tournament in a game that projected to be a potential steal especially with the Hokies having a closing stretch that includes 3 of their last 4 at home with the one road game being at Boston College along with a challenging home rivalry game against Virginia and a road game against a down Pittsburgh team that only has one home ACC win.
The Hokies have things to fix defensively, on the glass, and in protecting the basketball; but the Hokies still have plenty of breathing room while Miami did what they needed to do and is starting to get some breathing room between themselves and the bubble.