2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at #24 Florida State

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Virginia Tech (17-12, 7-8 ACC) at #24 Florida State (22-8, 9-6 ACC)

Sunday, March 8, 2009, 2 p.m.

TV: Raycom (click for affiliate list)


Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech’s entire basketball season is down to one game. If the Hokies
don’t beat Florida State on Sunday, barring a miracle run in the ACC Tournament,
they will not make the NCAA tournament field of 65 teams. FSU beat Tech 67-65 in
Blacksburg two weeks ago, and this will be Senior Day for star guard Toney
Douglas.

Tech isn’t guaranteed an invite to the Big Dance with a win, but it would
strongly help their case. They would finish with an 8-8 record in the ACC, and
it would give them another quality win on the road. In fact, it would be Tech’s
third road win this year over a ranked opponent.

Florida State also has a lot to play for. A win over Virginia Tech would
guarantee the Seminoles the #4 seed and a first round bye in the ACC tournament.
This will be a battle between two teams that desperately want to win.

Florida
State Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG Assists
G
Toney Douglas
6-2 200 Sr. 20.8 4 90
G
Derwin Kitchen
6-4 180 r-So. 8.3 4.3 50
F
Chris Singleton
6-9 220 Fr. 8 5 33
F
Uche Echefu
6-9 225 Sr. 8.9 5.3 16
C
Solomon Alabi
7-1 241 r-Fr. 8.2 5.7 12

Florida State is led by Toney Douglas, who averages 20.8 points per game. In ACC
games, Douglas is averaging 23.1 points per game, the top mark in the
conference. In the first meeting between Tech and FSU, it was Toney Douglas who
got into the lane and hit the game winning floater with just seconds remaining.

Douglas is a good shooter, hitting at a 37.6% clip from the outside this
year. He has a very strong upper body that allows him to get to the basket and
finish well. He is one of the strongest guards in the ACC, and he’s an excellent
on-ball defender. He is a very similar player to former Hokie Zabian Dowdell.

He’s joined in the backcourt by Derwin Kitchen. Kitchen scored 19 points on
8-of-11 shooting, including a 3-of-3 mark from three-point range, in the first
meeting with the Hokies. For the season he shoots 47.8% from the field and 43.8%
from three-point range, though he doesn’t shoot it a lot from behind the arc.
He’s a player who wasn’t eligible until after the first semester, and he’s been
a big boost to the ‘Noles in his 21 games.

FSU has a lot of height in the frontcourt. Chris Singleton and Uche Echefu
are long-armed forwards, while Solomon Alabi is a true center on the inside. The
length of Florida State makes them an excellent defensive team. They are #1 in
the ACC in field goal percentage defense, and #2 in scoring defense.

The Seminoles have a very balanced starting lineup. After Toney Douglas, they
have four players who are averaging between eight and 8.9 points per game. Any
of them is capable of scoring in double figures on any given night.

Florida State has a deep and experienced bench. In fact, Jordan DeMercy and
Ryan Reid have combined to start 32 games this season. The ‘Noles have one star
in Toney Douglas, and a lot of versatile role players around him, even coming
off the bench.

Florida State is a very good team at home. They are 12-3 in the Leon County
Civic Center this year. They haven’t lost in that building since a last second
three-pointer by Ty Lawson gave UNC an 80-77 victory back on January 28.

FSU
vs. VT, ACC Games Only
FSU VT
Category Stat Rank Stat Rank

FG%
42.7% 8 43.8% 6

FG% Def.
40.9% 1 43.5% 6

3-Pt.%
33.4% 9 34.7% 7

3-Pt.% Def.
32.3% 2 35% 5

FT%
74.9% 3 69.8% 9

Reb. Margin
-0.9 9 +0.1 5

TO Margin
+1.33 4 -0.27 6

Assist/TO Ratio
0.9 9 0.9 7

Scoring Off.
70.5 ppg 9 73.6 ppg 5

Scoring Def.
69.1 ppg 2 76 ppg 9

Average
5.6 6.5

The stats are fairly similar, though Virginia Tech is middle of the pack across
the board. The Seminoles rank in the top three in the ACC in all three defensive
categories, and they are also third in free throw shooting and fourth in
turnover margin.

Virginia Tech has played at Florida State four times since 2001, and they’ve
lost all four meetings. The last three games in Tallahassee have been decided by
an average of 7.3 points per game. With both teams having a lot to play for, we
should expect another dogfight.

It will be important for Virginia Tech to start well in this game. They fell
behind Florida State 22-9 in the first meeting, and they came back in the second
half, but eventually lost by two points. In fact, the Hokies have struggled out
of the gate in their last four games. That trend needs to stop on Sunday.

The fact that this game is on the road isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The
Hokies have defeated Wake Forest, Clemson and Miami on the road in ACC play. At
home, they have a tendency to come out tight, or flat, and fall behind. They
seem more loose on the road. The Hokies finished just 4-4 at home in ACC play.
Right now they are 3-4 on the road, with one tip-in at Boston College away from
being 4-3.

This is also the type of game that Virginia Tech seems to win. When their
backs are against the wall, and they absolutely can’t afford to lose, they seem
to always find a way to keep themselves in it. See the recent win over Clemson
as an example.

This game could come down to the health of Malcolm Delaney. If his hip is
better, and he can score effectively, the Hokies have a chance. But if Delaney
is struggling for the third game in a row, then go ahead and pencil the Hokies
in the NIT.

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