Mueller’s shot leads Hokies past Jackets

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Malik Muller
Malik Mueller

Behind Malik Mueller’s tough performance and Buzz’s new orange and maroon sweater, Virginia Tech came from behind to defeat Georgia Tech 65-63 in Cassell Coliseum on Monday night.  The Hokies improved to 10-14 overall and 2-9 in ACC play, while the Yellow Jackets dropped to 11-13 and 2-10 in the ACC.

Buzz Williams, who always changes shirts at halftime because he gets so sweaty, donned a custom made orange and maroon sweater for the second half, which you can see in the picture below.

vt_bb_buzz_williams_gt_sweater

More important than the sweater was the performance of Malik Mueller, who had 17 points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes of action.  He was 6-of-8 from the field, 3-of-5 from three-point range, and knocked down the game-winning three from the corner with 15 seconds remaining.

Ever since Buzz Williams began using Mueller at the backup power forward position against UVA, the r-freshman from Germany has scored in double figures three times in six games after breaking 10 points just once in the first 18 games of the season.  He has scored 73 total points in his last six games (12.7 ppg) while developing into Tech’s best post defender despite his 6-3 height.

“I think he’s our best low post defender,” Buzz Williams said after the game. “I know he doesn’t look like he is, but I think he’s eaten enough powdered doughnuts and Kit Kats that he can bang around down there and feel comfortable doing it.”

Adam Smith added 15 points for the Hokies, while Shane Henry had 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 night from the field.

After jumping out to a 14-2 lead, VT couldn’t stay hot and in fact trailed 31-26 at halftime.  They rallied to tie the game at 35 early in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets eventually took control.  They had what seemed to be a commanding 58-48 lead with 5:07 remaining when Tadric Jackson (12% three-point shooter coming in) nailed a three-pointer.  It was one of Jackson’s two three-pointers on the day.

Rebounding was once again the culprit.  Georgia Tech entered the game #7 nationally in rebounding rate, and they beat the Hokies 39-27 on the boards while pulling down 19 offensive rebounds.  However, the Jackets didn’t play smart offensively, taking 19 three-pointers (making four, a 21.1% clip) despite being just a 28% three-point shooting team coming into the game.

The Hokies were able to take advantage, scoring on their final eight possessions of the game.  Trailing 63-61, freshman Jalen Hudson drove to the basket, and kicked it to Mueller in the corner after drawing help defense.  Muller nailed the three-pointer, and Marcus Georges-Hunt missed a heavily contested shot in the lane with 2.5 seconds left.  The ball went out of bounds to the Hokies, Adam Smith made one final free throw, and the Yellow Jackets couldn’t get off a final shot.

“I think Jalen [Hudson] is our best downhill guy when he wants to be,” Buzz Williams said of Tech’s game-winning shot.  “So we had Jalen downhill, if he gets fouled or gets Malik [Mueller]’s man in help, pitch it.”

The Hokies return to action on Saturday when they travel to Clemson.  Tipoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised by RSN.

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28 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. With one or two exceptions, this team has always been in the ball game. Though we’ve lost more than our share of the close ones – you have to say that the games have been entertaining. I am impressed with Buzz’s strategy and how these guys never give up. We are just one “big body” away from being able to hang with anyone. Those offensive rebounds and second chance points by GT almost did us in.

    1. I think Buzz has done a remarkable job with this year’s team, especially after Joey Van Zegeren deprived him of one of his few post players by throwing a hissy fit and leaving the team when his P.T. was cut.

    2. Our team is progressing every game. I wish we were only one “big body” away. But we are not, we are two “big bodies”, one power forward and a true point guard away to really have a real chance to hang in and win against the mid to upper tier of the ACC.

      We are going to get there sooner than later.

      I really proud of these young men and our coaching staff.

      Thanks Witt!

    3. and with 10 wins the team is certainly past any “worst team ever” comments by NATTs, that’s a low hurdle to get over, just thought I’d note it, sorta like the stock market, we’re well past the bottom already.

  2. Go ahead, laugh, but you never know about those lucky shirt things. Comments about Mueller are interesting, a non-intuitive choice for “backup power forward” is working out better, that’s that type of thing that makes good coaches great.

      1. I hate 9pm games. Didn’t even get out of Cassell until 12:15 am. Writing recaps from 1-2am generally leads to plenty of errors. I looked over it twice after I posted it, but I guess I was just too tired to notice.

          1. It’s actually both. See his Hokiesports.com profile. I think I’m going back to the “Mueller” version though.

  3. Based on the jersey with marroon numbers in the background, that looks a lot more like Clemson purple and orange

  4. the real culprit in the first half – turnovers. VT could have blown GT out except lots of consecutive turnovers that allowed GT to get back in it.

  5. These kids continue to show grit and courage. Great comeback win. Too bad it was in front of a half empty (at best) house. This team and the coach deserve better with the effort and results they are starting to show. The ESPNU announcers commented that they shouldn’t even be IN most of their games (much less this competitive) with the current roster. In Buzz we trust.

      1. Essentially the same base crowd as the Pitt game minus students. It was disappointing that they didn’t walk across the street in numbers to watch the game.

    1. “This team and the coach deserve better with the effort and results they are starting to show.”

      I agree with the effort part, but Buzz doesn’t. He’s stated that bringing all the effort they’ve got is what is expected of the team; not something that is to be rewarded. As for the results, I mostly disagree on. As of last night we only have 2 conference wins, both of which were won at the buzzer. It makes for good entertainment when we are on the W side, but it’s heart-breaking when we’re on the L side.

      Add to all of that the fact that it was a Monday night tip-off at 9pm, I don’t blame anyone for not attending. But I was impressed with how loud it got despite all the empty seats. And I agree 100% with Newt…the student attendance is disappointing. We’ll see what that section of Cassell is like in year 3 of the BW era.

    2. The team is performing much better than the student/”fan” support. Really disappointed that the team is not getting more help at Cassell.

  6. Wow, great comeback! I’ll admit I certainly thought they were down once GT extended the lead to 10 at 58-48. I actually turned the game off and headed up to bed. Great to see they kept fighting and were able to get things turned around.

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