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Ty Outlaw and the Hokies came up short at #8 Louisville [Credit: Harley Taylor][/caption]Virginia Tech returned to action on Saturday afternoon, taking on the #8 Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center. The Hokies were red hot from the field, but unfortunately, so was Louisville. In a shootout game, Virginia Tech wasn’t able to hold pace, and lost 94-90.
In the first half, it was the overall team effort from the three-point line that kept the Hokies in the game. Virginia Tech made 9 out of 14 (65%) from beyond the arc, helping them take a 44-43 lead into the locker room. Ty Outlaw had three of those long range shots, two from Bibbs, Hill with two, and both Robinson and Allen contributing a three pointer as well. Louisville also shot the lights out in the first half, making 6 of 11 (55%) from three.
The ball movement for the Hokies in the first half was clinical. There always seemed to be an extra pass being made, and even if it didn’t end up in a made basket, it tired out the usually stout Louisville defense. Because of such great shooting and passing, it opened up the lane a little, allowing LeDay to drive and get a drunk late in the half to put the Hokies up by four.
In the second half, it was the Seth Allen show for Virginia Tech. He erupted for 15 points in 4 minutes, including a three from very deep as the shot clock was running down.
That effort and explosion wasn’t enough, though, as Louisville couldn’t miss either. Even after Allen finished his personal 15-point outburst, the Hokies still trailed by almost 10. Part of that can be contributed to hot shooting by the Cardinals, but it can also be attributed to the lack of size for Virginia Tech after losing Clarke for the season. At this point, there isn’t much the Hokies can do except box out the best they can, and hope the ball takes a gratuitous bounce off the rim.
One of the main turning points for this game is eerily similar to the Pittsburgh game earlier this week. This time, it didn’t work out in the Hokies favor though. In the 2nd
half, Louisville’s sharpshooter Ryan McMahon hit a three, along with a foul being called off the ball. This allowed Louisville to keep possession which led to another McMahon three. Sound slightly familiar? It should, as it was a six-point possession, reminiscent of the Hokies pulling off a seven-point possession against the Panthers.
The game ended with the Hokies scoring 90 points, the most points Louisville has allowed all season. Additionally, Virginia Tech broke their team record for most threes made in a game and tied the record for threes allowed by a Louisville team. The Hokies finished the game 17-26 (65%) from three. However, Virginia Tech gave up 16 offensive rebounds, allowing for 26 second chance points for the Cardinals.
Points – 25, Seth Allen
Rebounds – 9, Zach LeDay
Assists – 4, Justin Robinson
So what now?
Here’s the thing. Yes, the Hokies lost but man, if this isn’t the definition of a quality loss, I don’t know what is. For this Virginia Tech team, with 7 players playing meaningful minutes, to take the #8 team in the country to the wire on the road? It’s extremely impressive and the selection committee should notice.
I went into this game expecting a 15+ point loss, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I write this recap with a sense of relief. The Hokies didn’t just avoid the blowout, they just about won. In the process, they showed what type of shooting they’re capable of even lacking their best player in Chris Clarke. Ty Outlaw had a coming out party, going 7-8 from the field for 18 points, which will be huge for this team going forward if he can keep that production up.
Louisville is the #1 team per KenPom for defensive ratings, and the Hokies still hit 17 three pointers. If they can stay that hot in their last four games, they will finish 11-7 in the ACC. At that point, it won’t be a question of whether
they get into the tournament, it’ll be a question of what seed they will be and if they can get this hot in March, it won’t be that hard to win a couple games.
That’s looking further into the future though. Buzz and his team return to Cassell on Tuesday evening against Clemson. The Tigers will be coming off yet another close loss, losing at Miami. The game will start at 7 and be televised by ESPNU.