Virginia Tech suffered a humiliating 78-52 loss in Cassell Coliseum at the hands of in-state rival No. 8 Virginia on Wednesday night. The Hokies dropped to 11-4 overall with the defeat, and they are now 0-2 in ACC play. The Hoos improved to 13-1 overall and 2-0 in ACC play.
Tech’s three-point shooting began to slump in the second half of the Kentucky game, though their overall offense was very good for all 40 minutes of that contest. However, since then the Hokies have been mired in a major shooting slump from three-point range, and to make matters worse, they have executed their halfcourt offense at a very poor level in two ACC games against Syracuse and Virginia.
Virginia Tech’s shooting numbers have plummeted ever since they began ACC play. After shooting just 34.6% from the field against Syracuse, the Hokies responded by going 17-of-47 (36.2%) against UVA, and that includes a 2-of-12 (16.7%) mark from three-point range. After turning the ball over 12 times against the Orange, they had a whopping 16 turnovers on 69 possessions on Wednesday night against UVA.
“Yeah, we haven’t shot the ball well, and I think the thing I would say on that is our turnover rate is just really high,” Buzz Williams said following the game. “It was 25 percent at Syracuse and it was 23 percent tonight. The pace of play was much faster tonight than it was at Syracuse, it was a 69-possession game. When you miss shots and you’re giving them the ball 23 percent of the time, it just compounds the problems that we are having.”
“I don’t know, to be honest,” Justin Bibbs said when asked if there was something wrong with Tech’s offense besides simply their inability to make shots. “But something is going to have to iron out.”
The Hoos meanwhile were their usual efficient selves. Besides their dominant defensive performance, they turned Virginia Tech’s 16 turnovers into 23 points. Their offense generally executed well, and it got even better late in the game as the Hokies’ frustrations from the offensive end carried over into their defensive performance.
UVA was 30-of-61 (49.2%) from the field and 12-of-25 (48%) from three-point range. They committed just six turnovers and had 18 assists, and led by as many as 33 points in the second half. The only area of the game in which the Hokies can say they played well was on the boards, where they outrebounded UVA 33-31 overall, and held a 6-4 edge in offensive rebounding.
The last time Virginia Tech was defeated that badly at home came on December 30, 2015 when they were beaten by No. 19 West Virginia 88-63. They responded by winning their next two games, including a victory over No. 4 UVA. Virginia Tech also started poorly in ACC play last season. Despite knocking off Duke in Cassell, they began conference play 1-2, with two blowout losses to NC State and Florida State. They rebounded to finish 10-8 in the ACC in both of those seasons. The start to ACC play is disappointing thus far, but past experience should tell the players that there is a lot of basketball left to be played.
“16 games [remaining],” a dejected Bibbs said when asked what he could say to the team after such a disappointing loss. “We can’t dwell on it…just treat it as a learning experience.”
With teams now figuring out ways to limit Virginia Tech’s open three-point shots, it’s up to the Hokies to figure out a way to counter.
“I think we will continue to get the same test until we figure out how to pass it,” Williams said.
Virginia Tech will return to action on Saturday when they face struggling Pitt (8-7, 0-2). Tipoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised by The ACC Network. Click here for a list of local affiliates broadcasting the game.