Coming off a not-so-great performance on Saturday against Miami
, the Hokies rose to the challenge of facing a tough North Carolina State basketball team at home and were able to come away with the 85-75 win.
Led by point guard Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech shot 33-52 (63.5%) from the floor, the best shooting game any team in the ACC has had all season, and will now travel to Virginia on Saturday with a much-needed win under their belt.
Robinson led the Hokies with 32 points, a new career high for the junior from Manassas. He shot 11-17 from the floor, including 2-3 from three-point range, but he was very frustrated that he was only 8-14 from the line. Robinson was also frustrated about the five turnovers he had in the game. Robinson attacked the basket very well and the Wolfpack just couldn't stop him.
He is averaging 17.3 points per game and 5.5 assists per game in ACC play. Robinson has scored in double figures in all 11 conference games this season.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. also played well tonight for the Hokies, as he shot 7-10 from the field and was 3-4 from the free throw line, adding grabbing four rebounds. He only played 21 minutes because of foul trouble, unfortunately, but he made a huge impact when he was in the game.
Justin Bibbs was the only other Tech player to score in double figures as he had 11. Bibbs shot 50% for the fourth game in a row, shooting 4-8, but unfortunately he did not connect on either of his two attempts from behind the arc. He had three rebounds and two assists and brought energy on both ends of the court in his 37 minutes of play.
Devin Wilson got his first start since the beginning of the season because Buzz Williams wanted him to give them the spark they needed on both ends of the floor. Wilson did just that, playing very well on the defensive end and scoring 6 points on offense and grabbing three rebounds. He got the start over Ahmed Hill, who didn't start for the first time this season.
Hill came into the game and scored four points, not the greatest impact, and remained in a shooting lump. He was 0-3 from three-point range for the second-straight game, but VT will need him to find his shooting stroke against #2 Virginia Saturday.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker only played 16 minutes because, like Blackshear Jr., he was in foul trouble. when he was on the court. However, he still made an impact scoring three points, grabbing four rebounds, dishing two assists, and picking up two steals.
The Hokies played ten players against the Wolfpack, something they haven't done too frequently in ACC play this season, but the guys that came off the bench had an impact. Wabissa Bede did not score but gave Robinson a break when he needed it and is a responsible ball handler, while P.J. Horne only scored a basket. Like Bede though, Horne played great defense when he came in the game and gave Buzz some help when Tech got into foul trouble.
Chris Clarke came off the bench as always and scored nine points while recording four rebounds. He has proven to be a reliable source of rebounding and assists throughout the season. Tyrie Jackson was the tenth player to see the floor for Tech, only playing a few minutes but giving Buzz fresh legs to put on the floor.
This was a much-needed win for this Virginia Tech program coming off a tough loss and going into an even tougher stretch of road games. The Hokies travel to Charlottesville Saturday to face No. 2 Virginia and then will make their way to Durham on Valentines Day to face the highly ranked Blue Devils for the first time this season.
College GameDay will also be present this Saturday in John Paul Jones Arena when Virginia hosts the Hokies. This will be the first time Tech has been on GameDay for basketball since February 26, 2011, when Tech hosted and defeated then No. 1 Duke 64-60 in Cassell.
Virginia Tech sits in a four-way tie for fifth place in the ACC with North Carolina, NC State, and Louisville. Tech is 17-7 and 6-5 with two huge road games in front of them, arguably the two toughest games of the season. With 7 ACC games to go, Tech needs three wins to give themselves a good shot at the NCAA Tournament and four to put themselves safely in. A win in the next two games would be unlikely but it is not impossible. It's a tough road ahead for the Hokies, but a win over NC State makes the journey just a tad bit easier.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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