Virginia Tech’s 2015-16 men’s basketball season got off to a disappointing start with an 85-82 loss to Alabama State in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday. The Hokies played poor defense, and didn’t dominate the Hornets on the glass like they should. The result is an 0-1 record and a tough start to a season that was expected to be much better than last year.
Several statistics would point to a rather easy Virginia Tech win…
VT made more free throws (25) than Alabama State even attempted (21)
VT outrebounded Alabama State 41-36
Fastbreak points were 15-0 in favor of VT
Points int he paint were 46-26 in favor of VT
However, the Hornets put up 71 field goal attempts to VT’s 57, and though they shot a slightly lower percentage (47.4% for VT to 42.3% for Alabama State), they grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and beat Tech 19-7 in second chance points. The Hokies had 14 offensive rebounds of their own, but couldn’t convert them into very many points.
While they were technically outrebounded, Alabama State’s margin of -5 was much closer than it should have been given Virginia Tech’s obvious size advantage. The Hokies were also porous defensively, failing to close out on shooters on multiple occasions.
“We need to play better defense,” r-junior USF transfer Zach LeDay said. “We need to use the same intensity on defense that we use on offense.”
“I didn’t play good enough for us to win,” LeDay said of his performance. “So it’s not good enough.”
The Hokies got off to a slow start, trailing 10-5 a few minutes into the game. However, they slowly got it together and put a big run on the Hornets, taking an 11-point lead twice in the first half. With 8:14 remaining, they led 31-20 after two Chris Clarke free throws, and then led 35-24 at the 7:21 mark following a jumper from LeDay in the paint.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t close out thanks to bad defense and poor rebounding. Defensive rebounding was particularly poor in the second half, as Alabama State grabbed 11 offensive rebounds over the final 20 minutes. The Hornets stayed in the game, and took their first lead since early in the first half on a Bobby Brown dunk with 7:18 remaining to make the score 67-66.
They were able to keep the Hokies at arms length over the final few minutes, and Seth Allen’s potential game-tying three-pointer was just off the mark.
Allen, Tech’s highly-touted transfer from Maryland, had a disappointing first game. He finished with 13 points, though he was just 2-of-9 from the field. He had four of Tech’s 11 turnovers, including a drop of a wide open pass in transition that would have resulted in a breakaway dunk.
However, the loss can’t be pinned on Allen. The Hokies played poorly as a team on defense and on the boards.
“A little bit of everything [went wrong defensively],” Buzz Williams said. “I think if you score 82 points and you shoot 40 free throws at home you probably should win.”
The Hokies will hope to play better defense on Wednesday night when they host Jacksonville State. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game can be seen online on ESPN3.