2005-06 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Morgan State

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The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will conclude a six-game homestand tonight at 7pm when they take on the Morgan State Bears in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies are 4-1 on the season, while the Bears are off to an 0-4 start after participating in the BCA Classic. Tech is expected to handle Morgan State easily before getting ready for a big road test against Ohio State on Monday night.

To say that Morgan State is overmatched in this game would be an understatement. They are low on talent, start no seniors, shoot the ball poorly and play bad defense. The Hokies hold the matchup advantages at every position and should roll to an easy victory, with or without Coleman Collins, who is expected to return to action.

The Bears played three games in the BCA Classic. They lost to Washington 118-51 in the opening game, fell 62-49 to UNC Greensboro and lost 71-51 to Northern Arizona. After the BCA Classic they traveled to Miami to play the Hurricanes and lost 83-51. So not only has Morgan State not won a game, but they have not even been competitive.

Look for the Hokies to jump on Morgan State early in this contest. The Bears have scored only 78 first-half points in four games. After Tech gets a big lead, the Bears will not be able to come back. They shoot the ball poorly, just 36.3% as a team. They are even worse from three-point range at 26.1%. From the free throw line, they are one of the worst teams you’ll ever see, hitting just 59.1% of their shots from the charity stripe.

Morgan State’s best player thus far has been sophomore guard Andrew Lee. Lee is a big guard (6-6, 215) who can create some mismatches when he is on the court. He leads the Bears in scoring (12 ppg) and rebounding (4 rpg). He is also their best shooter, going 22-32 from the field on the season (68.8%). Despite his production, Lee plays just 22 minutes per game.

Morgan State will be totally outclassed by the Hokies in the assist-to-turnover ration. The Bears have turned the ball over a staggering 97 times in just four games, while registering just 43 assists in that span. The Hokies have forced their opponents into 90 turnovers in their first five games, and the Bears have quite a task ahead of them if they want to reverse this trend.

The Bears are coached by former New Jersey Nets head coach Butch Beard. Beard has employed a new defensive strategy this season that he hopes will create turnovers and makeup for a subpar offense. He substitutes a lot, with no players on the team averaging more than 26.8 minutes per game. A total of ten players average ten or more minutes per game for Beard. They are not afraid to pressure the basketball. Morgan State has forced 71 turnovers in four games, which is a good number.

Despite their ability to take the ball away, their defense is not good overall. Opponents are shooting 50.4% against the Bears, and are whipping them on the boards by an average of 41.5 to 28.5 rebounds per game. Opposing teams already have 64 offensive rebounds against Morgan State in just four games. If you don’t turn the ball over against their pressure defense, scoring will not be difficult.

This is Virginia Tech’s game to lose. Expect Deron Washington to use his supreme athletic ability to his advantage and have a huge game tonight against the overmatched Bears, as he did last season against so many out-of-conference teams. If you like exciting games with a lot of breakaway dunks, then this will be a fun game to watch. The Hokies will win big.

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