Another poor defensive performance led to another defeat as Virginia Tech lost to Florida State 91-82 inside Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies dropped to 13-6 overall and 2-4 in conference play with the loss, while the Seminoles improved to 14-5 and 3-4.
Florida State was known for their defense coming into this contest, but instead it was their offense that performed brilliantly. The Seminoles lit the Hokies up for 91 points, and they shot well from the field all day long. FSU was 31-of-58 (53.4%) from the field and 9-of-20 (45%) from three-point range.
“We were spread out on defense, we were just hugged up to our man too much,” Justin Bibbs said after the game. “They had easy drives to the rim. We just got a little bit too spread. We found our defense again [late in the game]…it was too late.”
Another bad performance by Virginia Tech defensively wasted another good offensive performance. The Hokies were defeated by Louisville last Saturday 94-86. This was their second consecutive defeat despite scoring 82 points or more in both games.
Tech was 32-of-60 (53.3%) from the field, and though they had a tough night shooting the three-pointer (10-of-29, 34.5%), overall their offense executed well against a strong Florida State defense. However, they could not overcome their own errors on the defensive end of the court.
“We have not done a very good job defensively,” Buzz Williams said. “They have really good players, they have a coach [Leonard Hamilton] that is four wins shy of 500. So, I’m not negating their talent or staff or strategic plan versus us, but our DER (Defensive Efficiency Rating) was 1.21 and that is hard to overcome.”
MJ Walker was also hard to overcome. The former 5-star recruit who almost signed with the Hokies in April dropped a career-high 24 points in Cassell Coliseum. He was 8-of-13 from the field, and 4-of-7 from three-point range. Many recruiting experts thought he was going to sign with Virginia Tech during the April signing period, and if not the Hokies, then UCLA. He surprised most people when he selected the Seminoles. He was the best player on the court on Saturday.
Another major factor in Virginia Tech’s defeat was the absence of Kerry Blackshear for most of the game. The 6-10 center, who has had such a big impact this season, found himself in foul trouble once again. Blackshear eventually fouled out with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds in just 18 minutes of action.
Despite the game being in Blacksburg, Florida State controlled the majority of the action. The Hokies led just once, at the opening stages of the game, when they jumped out to a 10-4 lead five minutes into the game. At that point Tech looked on point on both ends of the court, but as it turned out the Seminoles were just getting warmed up.
FSU put a big 21-8 run on the Hokies over the course of just five minutes to take a 25-18 lead at the 10:54 mark of the first half. They made five three-pointers between the 14:59 mark and the 10:54 mark. They led by as many as eight points in the first half, but the Hokies outscored them 6-2 in the final minutes and trailed just 41-38 at halftime. It was a manageable situation for the home team.
It didn’t stay that way for very long, however. Kerry Blackshear picked up his third foul on Florida State’s first possession of the second half and immediately left the game. With Blackshear out of the game, the Seminoles outscored the Hokies 9-3. He returned to the game at the 16:52 mark, but picked up his fourth foul just 45 seconds later, and was replaced again. Yet again, Tech was outscored 7-2 with Blackshear on the bench, and by now the Florida State lead had grown to 59-47 with 12:41 remaining.
The Seminoles eventually increased their lead to as many as 14 points, and though the Hokies would cut that margin to five late in the game, FSU did a good job of making their free throws down the stretch to hold on. Justin Robinson finished with a career-high 26 points, while Justin Bibbs added 19.
“A sense of urgency,” Bibbs said when asked if he was concerned about Tech’s 2-4 start to ACC play. “We do have 12 more games left. We have a quick turnaround, so that helps a lot. I mean, it’s not a good feeling to be in this position.”
Virginia Tech’s quick turnaround comes on Monday night when the Hokies host UNC for Big Monday. ESPN will televise the game at 7pm.
Game Notes from Virginia Tech
Justin Robinson scored a career-high 26 points. It is his 13th game in double figures this season and sixth consecutive game in double figures. He has set a new career high, scoring at least 20 points, in each of his last two games.
Robinson’s 26 points makes him the 15th player at Virginia Tech to score at least 25 points in an ACC regular season game. He joins teammates Kerry Blackshear Jr., Justin Bibbs and Devin Wilson as players to accomplish that feat.
Justin Bibbs scored 19 points. It is the 12th time this season he has scored in double figures.
Chris Clarke scored 13 points. It is his sixth game in double figures this season.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored 10 points. It is his 13th game in double figures this season and his fifth consecutive game in double figures.
Ahmed Hill dished out a career-high five assists in the game.
The Hokies’ 53.3 percent from the free throw line is the team’s lowest percentage this season.
After going the first five ACC games this season with no one fouling out of a game, Tech had two players, Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Chris Clarke foul out of today’s game. They mark the fifth and sixth time this season that the Hokies have had a player foul out of a game.