It was a tale of two halves for Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon. As snow piled up outside Cassell Coliseum on a cold winter day, the Hokies men’s basketball team put on another dominating performance to take down South Carolina State 81-44.
But it wasn’t always looking that way.
Tech couldn’t get any offense going in the first half and didn’t even take its first lead of the game until more than 10 minutes in. SC State wasn’t exactly playing the best offense either, but the Bulldogs were able to make enough shots to hold onto a lead early in the game.
A layup by Ahmed Hill with 9:59 left in the first half gave the Hokies a 10-9 lead, but they still struggled to find the basket. At one point in the first half, Tech was just 3-for-20 from the field.
At the same time, Tech was shooting well from the free throw line, going 8-for-10 at that point.
The Hokies closed out the first half on a solid run and went into the break with their biggest lead of the game, up 34-32 over the Bulldogs.
The second half was quite a different story for the No. 15 team in the country. Tech came out on a 22-4 run and quickly built up a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Several players contributed to the offense as Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored in double digits for the ninth game this season and five players made shots from three-point range.
There were a few scary moments in the second half when point guard Justin Robinson went down with an injury just minutes before Kerry Blackshear, Jr. seemed to be injured as well. Both players would return to the court shortly and continue to put on the show that is Virginia Tech basketball in 2018.
With 2:56 left in the second half and the game far out of reach for the Bulldogs, Alexander-Walker made a fast-break dunk to put the Hokies up 75-41 and put a symbolic exclamation point on the victory.
While the team has struggled a few times this season with playing out the entire 40 minutes, today’s game was quite the opposite. Tech scored 47 points in the second half while also limiting SC State to just 21 points after halftime. The Hokies looked like an absolutely dominant team late in the game as they picked up their eighth win of the season.
In addition, the Hokies did well on the glass with 14 offensive rebounds though VT does have room to improve on the other end allowing 10 offensive rebounds. VT also had 19 assists with three players having at least 4 assists, another good sign about the Hokies' impressive ball movement.
Alexander-Walker led the team with 19 points, shooting 8-for-11 from the field and 3-for-5 on three-pointers. He added four rebounds and four assists to his stat totals for the day.
Blackshear recorded a double-double for Tech, scoring 12 points and snagging 13 rebounds. The 6-10 forward went 2-for-2 from three-point range to help widen the Hokies’ lead throughout the game.
The win keeps Tech perfect at home this season and gives them a three-game win streak heading into next weekend’s matchup against Washington. The Hokies will face the Huskies in the Boardwalk Classic in Atlantic City on Saturday, Dec. 15 on ESPNU at 7pm.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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