Hokies host Winthrop

Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, on December 3, 2013
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013
7pm
ESPN3

Virginia Tech will host a 5-1 Winthrop squad in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night.  The Hokies are hoping to win their third consecutive game before talking on Miami in their first ACC contest on Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles have played well this season under second-year head coach Pat Kelsey.

vs. Roanoke: 93-74 W
vs. USC Upstate: 82-74 W
at VCU: 92-71 L
at ETSU: 76-66 W
vs. Virginia Intermont: 96-62 W
vs. JMU: 69-57 W

Winthrop lost at VCU, but they did knock off the same USC Upstate team that defeated Virginia Tech in the Hokies’ season opener.  They beat JMU last Wednesday, so they’ve had nearly a full week to prepare for Tech.

Considering their size in the backcourt, it’s hard to believe they are 5-1.  However, they have good natural basketball players who are aggressive and who know how to score.

G Keon Johnson (5-7, 160, Fr.): A true freshman who is 5-7?  Well, Johnson is averaging 13.2 points per game, which is second on the team.  He is shooting 46.7% from three-point range.  In high school, he was Ohio Player of the Year three times.  If he were a little tall, he would be playing at a bigger school.  He scored 11 points against VCU.

G Andre Smith (5-10, 170, Jr.): Smith is Winthrop’s leading scorer, averaging 14.2 points per game on the season.  He is a 52.6% three-point shooter.  Smith ranks 20th nationally in three-pointers per game, and overall he is Winthrop’s top player.

F Joab Jerome (6-5, 197, Sr.): Jerome averages 12.7 points per game, which ranks 12th on the team.  He is shooting exactly 60% from three-point range.  He will likely draw the assignment of defending Jarell Eddie.

F Larry Brown (6-6, 210, Jr.): Brown isn’t particularly productive, averaging 4.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in just over 20 minutes per game.  He is undersized, like most power forwards from the smaller conferences, so this should be a good matchup for C.J. Barksdale.

F James Bourne (6-8, 240, Jr.): Bourne is a Virginia native from Bishop O’Connell High School in Alexandria, VA.  He is Winthrop’s biggest player, and their only chance at an inside threat against the bigger Virginia Tech team.  He averages 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Despite their lack of size, Winthrop’s opponents are shooting just 41.6% from the field and 34.5% from three-point range.  They have forced their opponent into 103 turnovers, while committing just 83 of their own.

That’s where the Hokies have to be careful.  They should be able to easily outmuscle Winthrop, but if they lose the turnover battle (as they usually do), this game could be close.  Tech has turned the ball over 108 times this year, while only forcing 69 turnovers in eight games.  So far, this is not a VT team that does a good job of getting their hands in the passing lanes, forcing throwaways, etc.  Turnover margin, along with defensive efficiency, will be something to keep an eye on for the remainder of the season.


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