Presbyterian gave Virginia Tech a bit of a scare, but Tech’s talent level proved too much over 40 minutes of basketball, as the Hokies prevailed 63-55 in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night. The Hokies improved to 10-2 on the season with the victory, while the Blue Hose dropped to 6-6. Presbyterian had won five games in a row coming into the contest.
In Virginia Tech’s loss to Saint Louis earlier this season, the Billikens were able to slow down the pace and limit VT’s possessions and transition opportunities. The Blue Hose were able to do the same on Tuesday night, as they committed just nine turnovers and held Tech to just 54 shot attempts, including 14 three-point attempts. The Hokies made just three 3-pointers, a season low, and though they were a solid 48.1% from the field, they were never able to get going offensively.
There could have been a hangover effect from an emotional loss at Kentucky, as well as the fact that the team has now played two games since Saturday, both during the middle of exams.
“I think the next level, the next layer, the next step we have to take relative to maturity is, good or bad, we go to the next thing,” Buzz Williams said. “I did not think that we handled that very well tonight. I don’t think that any of us were dreading it, it’s just there’s a lot of moving pieces in a very short period of time for college students at this time, as you know. Playing on the road probably compounded that. But, again, to not take away from Presbyterian and what they did, because they controlled it from start to finish.”
However, Virginia Tech did show up and play a good game defensively. The Hokies limited Presbyterian to just 55 points, and the Blue Hose were only 21-of-59 (35.6%) from the field, and just 9-of-30 (30%) from three-point range. The Hokies also won the rebounding battle 39-27, and limited their opponents to only four offensive rebounds.
Only three Tech players scored in double figures. Ahmed Hill led the team with 12 points, while Justin Robinson had 11 points and four assists. Kerry Blackshear added 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
Presbyterian led for a total of 12:12, while the game was tied for 7:59. The Hokies led the rest of the game. Tech didn’t gain control until late in the second half when a 10-0 run transformed a 47-47 tie with 8:25 remaining to a 57-47 Hokie lead with 5:13 left in the game. The Blue Hose were scoreless from the 10:30 mark to the 4:04 mark, and it was that stretch of impressive play that enabled Tech to walk out of Cassell Coliseum as winners.
According to Buzz Williams, there is still plenty to work on, as the team has just one non-conference game remaining before ACC play begins.
“I haven’t liked the turnover rate the last two games, but the previous two games it was the best turnover rate,” Williams said. “I think defensive rebounding is going to be paramount, and I think our turnover rate is going to be paramount. I think those will be two numbers that will dictate a lot of our success and/or not success.”
The Hokies will return to action on Thursday, December 28 when they host North Carolina A&T at noon. The game can be viewed online on ACC Network Extra.
Game Notes from Virginia Tech
P.J. Horne earned his first collegiate start tonight.
The Hokies scored 29 points in the first half, tied for the fewest points in a half this season. The Hokies’ 63 points are their fewest of the season and the fewest in a victory since a 62-61 win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 18, 2017 in Cassell Coliseum.
Ahmed Hill scored 12 points. He has scored in double figures in 10 of the 12 games this season.
Justin Robinson scored 11 points, the seventh time this season he has scored in double figures.
Kerry Blackshear scored 10 points, the eighth time this season he has scored in double figures.
In tonight’s win, Justin Bibbs became the 32nd player in Virginia Tech history to score 1,200 points. He currently has 1,202 career points, 31st on the Virginia Tech all-time scoring list, passing Dorenzo Hudson on Tuesday night.
The Hokies held Presbyterian to 35.6 percent from the field, the fifth time this season that Tech has held an opponent under 40 percent from the field.
The Virginia Tech men’s basketball game on Dec. 28 against North Carolina A&T will now tip-off at noon. The women’s basketball game against NC State on the 28th will now tip at 2:30 p.m. The changes were made to better accommodate fans wishing to watch the Camping World Bowl.