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Ty Outlaw has stepped up since Chris Clarke went down. [Credit: Harley Taylor][/caption]When Chris Clarke went down for the season against Virginia, no one knew how much it would affect the Virginia Tech Hokies but most expected that it would have a negative impact with some becoming nervous that the Hokies would struggle down the stretch and miss the NCAA Tournament because of the injury.
Almost no one thought that the Hokies might play better without Clarke given how Clarke was VT's leading rebounder, and brought lots of energy and great athleticism. However, the Hokies have done exactly that and it's largely due to the play of one player who has seen a large playing time jump since Clarke's departure with his play taking a bigger jump, Ty Outlaw.
Outlaw made his Division I debut this season after missing all of the 2015-2016 season due to a medical condition that made many wonder if the JUCO transfer would ever play for the Hokies. For Outlaw and the Hokies, the good news was that he did with the Hokies reaping the benefits though Outlaw's minutes were limited for a while with Outlaw playing around 10 to 15 minutes a night for most of the season.
That changed when Clarke went down as Outlaw has played his five highest minute totals in the past 5 games since Clarke went down for the season with 22 minutes at Pittsburgh and 35 or more minutes in the past four games including 38 in each of the past two games.
In his past five games, Ty Outlaw has averaged 14 points per game, made 21-of-29 threes, and has scored in double-figures in three of his past four games. If you take out his three-point game at Pittsburgh, Outlaw has 16.8 points and made 20-of-26 threes with an incredible 76.9% three-point shooting percentage along with breaking the VT single-game record for most threes.
Ty Outlaw has become Virginia Tech's most dangerous three-point shooter since Clarke went down and was the main reason why Virginia Tech beat Miami on Monday night. Outlaw has been shooting the ball with more and more confidence every single game, now making threes while even decently well covered by opposing teams.
Against Miami, we could see the Hurricanes start to adjust their defense to try to make sure that Outlaw was tightly guarded, which is likely to be replicated by other teams, but even that did not shut down Outlaw with the former JUCO transfer having a couple big threes down the stretch.
Outlaw definitely brings plenty of energy and while he isn't nearly as good of a defender as Chris Clarke, Outlaw does bring tons of energy and also does a great job of staying out of foul trouble with no more than 3 fouls in any of his past 5 games.
One thing that undoubtedly flies under the radar with Outlaw is that he is actually a quality rebounder and probably the best rebounder among Virginia Tech's guards. Outlaw had 7 rebounds against both Louisville and Boston College while averaging 5 rebounds in his past four games which is quite good for a guard.
While there is definitely a drop-off from Clarke's rebounding to Outlaw's, the 6'5'' wing has done a great job of minimizing that difference and should only continue to be quite effective in that role as a solid rebounder that can give Zach LeDay some consistent help for 30+ minutes crashing the boards.
With Outlaw receiving a lot more attention and receiving heavier defensive coverage, it should only make life harder for opponents trying to handle Virginia Tech's deep group of talented three-point shooters with Justin Bibbs, Ahmed Hill, and Seth Allen all shooting over 39% from beyond the arc this season. That space should also create room for Allen and Justin Robinson to drive along with giving Justin Bibbs and Ahmed Hill more space to shoot which definitely can cause plenty of problems for opponents in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
Ty Outlaw has stepped his game up in a big way not only by becoming Virginia Tech's best three-point shooter but also in providing some great rebounding that helps offset some of the lost rebounding from Chris Clarke's season-ending injury with Outlaw being a big reason why Virginia Tech is playing some of its best basketball right now.