The first half did not go the way Virginia Tech wanted, but they rebounded in the second half to easily defeat Houston Baptist 99-73 in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night. The Hokies improved to 4-1 on the season, while Houston Baptist dropped to 1-4.
For the second consecutive game, veteran wings Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs were on fire for Virginia Tech. Both players had huge games against Washington on Friday, and they followed that up with another one on Tuesday.
Bibbs vs. Washington: 30 points, 10-of-15 shooting, 4-of-6 3-pointers
Bibbs vs. Houston Baptist: 25 points, 11-of-13 shooting, 3-of-5 3-pointers
Hill vs. Washington: 23 points, 7-of-8 shooting, 6-of-6 3-pointers
Hill vs. Houston Baptist: 19 points, 5-of-10 shooting, 5-of-8 3-pointers
For the season, Hill is 20-of-33 (60.6%) on his three-point attempts, and Bibbs has been scorching hot (21-of-28 overall, and 7-of-11 from three-point range) over his last two games.
“I have not. All the way since my freshman year, I have not,” Bibbs said when asked if he had ever had back-to-back games that impressive. “It’s always been a big game, and then it goes down. But I’m happy it’s going up. Hopefully it stays there.”
Those two players, along with junior point guard Justin Robinson (15 points, 7 assists, 2 steals), paced Virginia Tech’s offensive attack on Tuesday. As a team, the Hokies shot 32-of-50 (64%) from the field and 16-of-26 (61.5%) from three-point range. The 16 made three-pointers was just one shot shy of the school record of 17 set at Louisville last year. They were also 19-of-23 (82.6%) from the free throw line, including a perfect 11-of-11 in the second half. Tech had 21 assists on 32 made baskets.
Things weren’t as easy as the final score indicated, however, at least not in the first half. The Hokies led 44-38 at the halftime intermission, but Houston Baptist led by as much as 32-27 at the 5:40 mark. Tech closed the half strong, and dominated over the final 20 minutes.
“We ask ourselves, ‘are we Saint Louis or Washington?’” Ahmed Hill said after the game, in reference to Tech’s impressive win over Washington and their upset at the hands of Saint Louis. “We just played like we were [playing] Washington in the second half.”
The Hokies seemed to improve defensively when freshman guard Wabissa Bede entered the game for the first time at the 12:07 mark of the second half. At that point, the score was 65-53 Tech, but the Hokies outscored the visitors 34-20 after that point, and their defense seemed to improve.
When asked about Bede’s performance following the game, head coach Buzz Williams had a lot to say.
“It’s not close [how better we were defensively with Bede],” Williams said. “You look at Bede and go, ‘If we were playing three-on-three, and it’s defense, you’re in all the time and don’t come out.’ But you look at what he does offensively, and it’s kind of hard to argue. That’s my fault, not Bede’s fault. He doesn’t play in the first half, and in the second half he plays 54% of the minutes and scores 13 points and is perfect from three. He was shooting 28% from the free throw line coming into the game, and they foul him. I call him over and go, ‘You’re the worst free throw shooter currently in Division I under 6’2. Do not miss.’ He doesn’t. And I respect that. I think his presence defensively maybe outweighs the timidness that’s in my soul when we’re on offense. I need to give him more reps.”
As Williams noted, Bede scored 13 points in 11 minutes, and he made all six of his free throw attempts.
Virginia Tech returns to action this Saturday when they host Morehead State. Tipoff is scheduled for 1pm, and the game can be seen online on ACC Network Extra.
Game Notes from Virginia Tech
This was the final game of the 2K Classic.
Justin Bibbs scored 25 points. He has scored at least 15 points in all three of his games this season. He made his first nine field goal attempts of the game.
Ahmed Hill scored 19 points. He has scored in double figures in all five games this season.
Justin Robinson scored 15 points, his third game in double figures this season. He also dished out seven assists, tied for a season-high.
Wabissa Bede scored a career-high 13 points. It was his first career game in double figures.
The Hokies made 16 three-pointers in the game, the second consecutive game of at least 15 three-point field goals. The 16 three-pointers is one off the school record.
Justin Ammerman made his Virginia Tech debut in the game.
Tech shot 64.0 percent from the field, the third time this season the Hokies have shot at least 60 percent. Tech shot 61.5 percent from three-point range, the second consecutive game Tech has shot at least 60 percent from beyond the arc.
Tech had 21 assists on 32 made baskets. It marks the fourth time this season Tech has recorded at least 20 assists in a game.