The Hokies trailed by just three at halftime, but came unglued in the second half in an 82-51 loss at #15 West Virginia on Tuesday afternoon. Tech dropped to 8-5 on the season, while West Virginia improved to 12-1.
This was a bad matchup from the beginning, as West Virginia employs a fullcourt press for entire game, and the Hokies had to face it with numerous freshman ball handlers, plus two more experienced guards (Devin Wilson and Adam Smith) who aren’t known for their ball handling ability.
Here are the ugly turnover stats by Tech’s ball handlers…
Fr. Justin Bibbs: 8 turnovers in 27 minutes
r-Jr. Adam Smith: 6 turnovers in 29 minutes
Fr. Jalen Hudson: 3 turnovers in 15 minutes
So. Devin Wilson: 3 turnovers in 32 minutes
Fr. Ahmed Hill: 2 turnovers in 25 minutes
As a team, the Hokies had 25 turnovers. West Virginia used the extra possessions to attempt 16 more shots than Tech, and they scored a whopping 37 points off turnovers. WVU had already forced 274 turnovers on the season heading into Tuesday’s game.
One of the better rebounding teams in the country, the Mountaineers also grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and scored 15 second chance points. West Virginia’s strengths matched up perfectly with Virginia Tech’s weaknesses.
Tech shot 46.5% from the field for the game, but only put up 43 field goal attempts because of all their turnovers. Late in the first half, the Hokies trailed just 31-30, and then WVU went on a 46-13 run to extend their lead to as many as 34 points. Once the avalanche hit, there was nothing Tech could do about it, and it was obvious that they mentally checked out of the game about halfway through the second half.
The one big positive from the game was the performance of freshman center Satchel Pierce. In 23 minutes, he scored a career-high 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and pulled down five rebounds. He also blocked a shot and had a steal. Joey van Zegeren’s time was limited because of foul trouble, and he had just two points and one rebound in 15 minutes.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the next six games look like this: vs. Syracuse, at Florida State, at Louisville, at North Carolina, vs. Notre Dame and vs. UVA. The Hokies will host the Orange this Saturday an noon on RSN.