The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will try to get over their heartbreaking loss to Duke when they host the North Carolina A&T Aggies in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies have lost two games in a row, but the last 60 minutes of basketball have Tech fans feeling good about the rest of the season. Tech nearly pulled off a second half comeback against Ohio State, and it took a halfcourt shot from Duke’s worst three-point shooter to beat the Hokies in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
North Carolina A&T is 0-4 on the season. They have lost games against East Carolina, Miami, Radford and South Carolina State. The Aggies will bring a very young team to Blacksburg. They are expected to start two freshmen and two sophomores against the Hokies.
A&T will play a perimeter-based game against Virginia Tech. After just four games the Aggies have shot a total of 110 three-pointers. However they have hit only 31 (28.2%). They are a poor shooting team overall, hitting just 38.4% of their shots from the field. They also struggle from the free throw line, hitting just 63.4% of their attempts. A statistic that plays into the Hokies’ hands is their assist-to-turnover ratio. The Aggies have just 39 assists, compared to 59 turnovers.
North Carolina A&T has struggled on the defensive side of the ball. Opponents are shooting 47.3% from the field against the Aggies and are outrebounding them by an average of 40.2-31.1. On the bright side, they have forced 69 turnovers in four games, showing they put good pressure on the basketball. 20 of those forced turnovers came in their 11 point loss to East Carolina, which is coached by former VT head man Ricky Stokes.
It looks like the Aggies live and die on the shooting ability of Demetrius Guions, which might help explain their 0-4 record. Guions is only shooting 29.8% from the field and 22.2% from three-point range. He has taken 57 shots on the season, way ahead of second-place Austin Ewing, who has taken 34 shots. Guions does lead North Carolina A&T in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game.
The Aggies’ best three-point shooter is sophomore guard Dejaun Morrison. Morrison is hitting 40.9% of his three-pointers this season. He is shooting 50% from the field overall and is second on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game. Another player to watch from the outside is Austin Ewing, who has hit 34.4% of his three-pointers.
On the inside, look out for Jason Willis. He is third on the team at 10.8 points per game, and leads the team in rebounding with 5.5 pre game. He doesn’t have a lot of size, coming in at just 6-6, 206. Joining him inside is center Omari Williams. Williams is 6-8, but he lacks bulk, weighing in at just 216. He has played in all four games this year and averages just one point and 0.8 rebounds per game. Coleman Collins has another huge matchup advantage in this game, and could top his career high of 25, which he set Sunday night against Duke.
North Carolina A&T will start a tall, rangy lineup against the Hokies. The shortest player in their starting lineup is 6-4. Austin Ewing is only 5-11, but he will come off the bench. The Aggies are coached by Jerry Eaves, a 1986 Louisville graduate who is certainly familiar with Cassell Coliseum from his days in the Metro Conference.
If Virginia Tech comes out fired up and focused, they will not only win this game, but they will win it going away. The Hokies have shot the ball very well the last two games and have done a much better job of getting into their offensive sets. They should have a big night against the below-average defense of the Aggies. Look for Coleman Collins and Deron Washington to have a lot of easy dunks on the inside, and the Hokies will roll to an easy victory.