After almost a week off since their win over Purdue, #13 Virginia Tech had to shake off some rust in their return to action against St. Francis (PA).
Virginia Tech took care of business comfortably beating Saint Francis 75-37 to improve to 5-0 on the season while the Red Flash fell to 1-4 with all 4 of their losses coming on the road to teams in this week’s top 25.
Virginia Tech’s defense stole the show in this game holding the Red Flash to only 37 points including 15 in the second half. In addition, the Hokies held Saint Francis to 25.9% shooting from the field and 18.2% from three-point range. VT oversaw the Red Flash have 22 turnovers though the Hokies allowed 14 turnovers of their own.
The Hokies got off to a slow start in the first half, but used a 12-0 run to surge to a 23-13 lead. While the Red Flash were able to cut the lead down to 23-20 with a 7-0 run of their own, the Hokies had a 10-2 advantage in the final few minutes of the first half to carry a 33-22 lead into halftime.
In the second half, it was all Virginia Tech as the Hokies were dominant from the get-go with a 29-8 run during the first 13 minutes of the second half. From there, the Hokies put it on cruise control with VT able to get some of their bench valuable live game experience including freshmen Isaiah Wilkins and Jon Kabongo on their way to outscoring the Red Flash 42-15 in the final 20 minutes.
Player of the Game: Justin Robinson
There were a few worthy choices for this recognition, but Justin Robinson earned it with 10 points, 7 assists, and 2 rebounds. However, the most important fact is how Robinson only had 2 turnovers in a game that saw the two teams combine for over 30. Turnovers have always been the one issue for Robinson at times, but the senior point guard put on a great display of offensive basketball for a point guard today.
Ahmed Hill led the Hokies’ scoring with 19 points on 7-11 shooting including 5-6 shooting from three-point range. Hill built on his strong shooting and scoring performance in the Charleston Classic in this game and has emerged as the Hokies’ third scoring option after Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Ty Outlaw struggled early in the season from three-point range, but the senior from North Carolina seemed to find some rhythm today. Outlaw had 15 points and 7 rebounds while going 5-9 from three-point range, a good sign for the Hokies that their most talented three-point shooter may be breaking out of his early season slump ahead of the Hokies’ trip to Penn State next week.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker was held under 20 points for the first time this season with 11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals on 3-7 shooting from the field. Kerry Blackshear got into some foul trouble during the first half, but finished the game with 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 turnovers in 20 minutes though his 4 fouls will definitely be a concern.
Wabissa Bede once again received the start and provided some solid defense, but not much on the offensive end with only 3 assists and 2 rebounds. PJ Horne had a solid game with 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists while receiving about half of the load in the Hokies’ frontcourt. Isaiah Wilkins had 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist while Jon Kabongo had only a foul in his limited action and Brendan Palmer played the final few seconds of the game.
Key Stat: Offensive Rebounds
While this game wasn’t close enough to pick out any one stat, there was one area of disappointment for Virginia Tech as they were dominated on the offensive glass. St. Francis won the battle on the offensive glass 16-8 including 10-3 in the first half.
The second half improvement was a step back in the right direction, but this performance was a disappointing regression in that area after having a much better outing against a Purdue with a pair of talented big men in Matt Haarms and Evan Boudreaux. However, part of that may have been to to the rust that the Hokies seemed to have during the first half after their long lay-off.