For the second consecutive season, Virginia Tech lit up Louisville on the road. And for the second consecutive season, the Hokies allowed 94 points and lost despite their great offensive effort. Tech fell 94-86 in the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday afternoon, dropping the team to 13-5 overall and 2-3 in the ACC. The Cardinals improved to 13-4 and 3-1.
Last season the Hokies set a school record by making 17 three-point attempts, but still lost at Louisville 94-90. They didn’t make 17 three-pointers this time, but the offense still clicked, and Tech scored a lot of points. However, they were poor defensively, and once again they turned the ball over far too many times.
Louisville shot 52.5% from the field, and were 13-of-23 (56.5%) from three-point range. They also forced 19 Virginia Tech turnovers and scored 20 points off of them. The length of the Cardinals bothered the Hokies at times, as did the fact that they played tight man-to-man defense all day long. However, Tech still had plenty of success offensively when they weren’t turning the ball over.
Justin Robinson had 23 points for the Hokies, while Kerry Blackshear finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Ahmed Hill added 17 points, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker chipped in with 10.
The Hokies led on eight different occasions, including four times in the second half. Each and every time they took the lead in the second half, they failed to get a stop on Louisville’s ensuing possession. Tech’s last lead came with a Justin Robinson layup with 5:39 remaining, and that score put the Hokies up 72-71. However, it was answered less than 30 seconds later by a Deng Adel three-pointer, and the Cardinals did not trail for the remainder of the game.
Virginia Tech might have run out of gas in the closing minutes, as Buzz Williams continues to shorten his bench in ACC play. Here’s a breakdown of minutes played by each player…
Kerry Blackshear: 37 minutes
Justin Robinson: 36 minutes
Justin Bibbs: 35 minutes
Chris Clarke: 29 minutes
Ahmed Hill: 27 minutes
Nickeil Alexander-Walker: 22 minutes
Devin Wilson: 9 minutes
Wabissa Bede: 3 minutes
Tyrie Jackson: 2 minutes
Once again freshman forward PJ Horne did not get off the bench, while freshmen guards Wabissa Bede and Tyrie Jackson combined for just five minutes of playing time.
As a team, Virginia Tech was 30-of-61 (49.2%) from the field, 8-of-22 (36.4%) from three-point range, and an impressive 18-of-22 (81.8%) from the charity stripe. They outscored a bigger Louisville team 40-28 in the paint, and were only outrebounded 34-30. In fact, the Hokies had more second chance points (16) than Louisville (15), which is something that won’t happen very often in ACC play. Once again, Buzz Williams will be able to point to turnovers as one of the main causes of defeat. The Cardinals had 11 steals, and they also used their superior length to block seven shots.
Virginia Tech will return to action next Saturday when they face yet another tall and lengthy team: Florida State. Tipoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.