Virginia Tech had another disappointing Saturday home loss, this time falling to Louisville 75-68 in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies dropped to 20-9 overall and 9-7 in the ACC with the loss, while the Cardinals improved to 19-10 and 9-7.
The Hokies have dropped their last three Saturday home games with losses to Florida State, Miami and Louisville. Their record in all other ACC games in that same span (since the FSU game) is 7-1. However, they can’t seem to get over the hump on Saturdays in Cassell Coliseum. If they lose to Duke on Monday night, they will finish with a losing record in home ACC games, while they are already guaranteed a winning record in ACC road games. That’s not something that happens very often.
Tech didn’t play poorly against Louisville, but a tough stretch in the second half doomed them to defeat. The Hokies led 55-50 after an Ahmed Hill dunk with 9:02 remaining, and considering how hot they had been recently, and how Louisville came into the game losing five of their last seven, it looked like the home team was firmly in control.
At that point in the game, the Cardinals were shooting just 38 percent from the field, and they were only 6-of-20 (30 percent) from three-point range. Tech played great defense on Louisville’s ensuing possession, and the Cardinals’ Dwayne Sutton put up a tough shot from the corner with the shot clock winding down. The ball bounced off the rim, went high into the air, and then dropped in, cutting the Hokie lead to 55-53 with 8:28 left.
“We were up five, played great defense, and the kid hit a three that hit the rim and bounced in,” Justin Robinson said. “It was just their night. They hit three threes in a row.”
After starting 6-of-20 from three-point range, Louisville finished the game 12-of-27 (44.4 percent). They were 42.9% overall from the field overall. Tech was 26-of-59 (44.1 percent) from the field and 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from three-point range. The Cardinals outrebounded the Hokies 44-27 and had 13 offensive rebounds.
“Twenty-one percent of the time we forced them into a turnover,” Buzz Williams said. “That’s great for a team as good as they are. We shot more balls than they did. We just couldn’t finish with a rebound.”
Despite Louisville’s rebounding advantage, they only outscored Tech 10-9 in second chance points. This game was mostly about making shots down the stretch. Louisville made them, and the Hokies did not.
“I would say for sure three of the last six were late clock shots,” Williams said. “They were big shots. I thought that was the difference.”
The Hokies led for 23:11 to Louisville’s 12:23, but it wasn’t enough. That late game three-point spurt from the Cardinals was the difference.
Justin Robinson led the Hokies with 16 points and four assists. Kerry Blackshear had 14 points and five rebounds, but only played 20 minutes due to foul trouble. Justin Bibbs had 11 points, but was only 4-of-14 from the field and 2-of-8 from three-point range. He went down with what appeared to be cramps towards the end of the game.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Monday night when they host Duke. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Game Notes From Virginia Tech
Justin Robinson scored 16 points. It is his team-high 22nd time in double figures this season.
Kerry Blackshear Jr., scored 14 points. It is his 18th game in double figures.
Justin Bibbs scored 11 points. It is his 19th game in double figures this season. He now has 1,402 career points, 20th on the Tech all-time scoring list.
The Hokies wore special pink uniforms for Breast Cancer Awareness.
The Hokies’ bench outscored Louisville’s 24-12 and Tech held a 38-16 advantage in the paint.
Tech forced the Cardinals into 15 turnovers, while committing just eight turnovers. Tech held an 18-3 advantage in points off turnovers.
Ahmed Hill scored nine points and now has exactly 1,000 career points, making him the 46th Hokie all-time to reach the 1,000 career point plateau. Justin Robinson is now just three points shy of the mark, at 997 career points.