Virginia Tech used their superior athleticism and stifling first half defense to easily beat Morehead State 96-63 on Saturday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies improved to 5-1 overall with the win, while the Eagles dropped to 1-4.
Overall, Tech looked better in this game than they did in their previous games, at least until the game got out of hand. The Hokies led by as many as 40 points, 82-42, with 8:26 remaining. They were a bit sloppy down the stretch, but overall it was a good performance.
“I think we did better with our principles,” freshman wing Nickeil Alexander-Walker said after the game. “We stayed disciplined. We didn’t just treat it as any old game…we actually tried to get better today.”
Alexander-Walker paced Virginia Tech’s balanced offensive attack with 18 points. He was 7-of-9 from the field, and 3-of-4 from three-point range. He also had four assists and two steals in 27 minutes of action.
Four Hokies scored in double figures, including Alexander-Walker. As a team, Tech shot 31-of-54 (57.4%) from the field, including a mark of 17-of-26 (65.4%) in the first half. They went 10-of-23 (43.5%) from three-point range, and were an impressive 24-of-27 (88.9%) from the free throw line.
The Hokies played exclusively zone defense in the first half, and limited Morehead State to a 10-of-28 (35.7%) performance from the field over the first 20 minutes. Those first 20 minutes were the best Tech has played defensively this season.
“It’s an ongoing thing. I’m trying to get better at it,” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said. “I thought I had a better rep today than I had against Houston Baptist. We’ve still got to continue to figure out who are the guys that can help us get stops at the end. Who can get stops when we have to have stops? That’s what we have to continue to try to figure out.”
The Hokies will have to figure it out very soon. For the first time in the Buzz Williams tenure, the Hokies will play back-to-back Power 5 conference schools during the non-conference portion of their schedule. Tech will host Iowa on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge (9 PM, ESPN2), and then they’ll head south for a road trip to Ole Miss.
“This will be the biggest week of the program, since I’ve been here, in nonconference play,” Williams said. “It’ll be the first time we’ve played two Power 5 teams in a seven-day period, one at home, one on the road. This is our fourth year, that’s probably the next right step for us to take. It’ll be a gigantic step, in my opinion. I think those guys from Iowa will all be back healthy. By the time they play us, they’ll have been off six days, which is a really long time in nonconference play. Obviously, we’ll play all those guards at Ole Miss so we’ll have our hands full, but it’s the next step for us to take.”
Tech’s game with Iowa will tip off at 9 PM at Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
Game Notes From Virginia Tech
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 18 points. It is the fourth game this season he has recorded double figures.
Justin Bibbs scored 15 points. He has scored at least 15 points in all four games he has played this season.
Kerry Blackshear Jr., scored 13 points. It is his fourth game of the season in double figures.
Ahmed Hill scored 12 points. He has scored in double figures in all six games this season.
Justin Ammerman scored his first two career points.
The Hokies recorded 20 assists on 31 made baskets. Tech has had 20-or-more assists in five of the six games this season.