Virginia Tech Falls at Home to Louisville

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It was a disappointing day for Justin Bibbs (center) and the Hokies. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

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.”

Actually, Sutton’s three-pointer was the first of six consecutive three-pointers that Louisville hit from the 8:28 mark to the 2:22 mark, at least two of which came against great defense from the corner with the shot clock winding down.  The Hokies tried to keep up, but could only manage six points during what turned out to be an 18-6 Louisville run.  Tech missed seven three-pointers down the stretch, most of which were good looks.

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.

Box Score

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.


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11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Having watched the game from the floor, what struck me the most was the intense effort of the team defensively, only to have the refs mitigate it by not calling at least 10 (and I mean 10) obvious travel violations on UL. Our guys were denied the fruits of their labor, and what should have been at least 5 or six (being extremely conservative) additional possessions. Granted, those possessions may not have mattered if we simply missed additional open shots. But it was galling to witness. I’m rarely one to complain about officiating, but it was blatant and clear to see up close. Along those lines, NAW really needs to change his dribble… he holds the ball too long from the bottom, which will cost him/us at some point. As long as the guys continue to play with the same intensity, I like our chances down the stretch, particularly against Miami.

    1. I agree… I noticed a handful of travel violations that were not called on Louisville. One in particular I think came on that corner three described in the article. Player set his pivot foot down and then hopped before awkwardly throwing the ball up for a three pointer… such a frustrating game…

  2. I disagree that it was Louisville’s hot 3 point shooting that cost the game. Certainly it was a big factor. And it wasn’t missed 3 pointers by Tech (though if a couple drop, this is a different game at the end). I lost count of how many shots Tech missed that were either layups or within 2 feet of the rim. I know it was at least 5 times, though I think it was probably more. If Tech makes the easy shots, this game isn’t even close.

  3. Never have seen one team make so many consecutive very tough threes, and it seemed every rebound and loose ball went their way. The shot described in the article was a freaky one. It started a stretch of six straight threes including the one from Snyder with Clarke all over him … just a heart breaker. We went cold and they just did not miss. Not sure how to digest this one. A.H.

    1. I agree on this. There are lots of ways to pay tribute to this cause (less glaring I realize) but leave the uniforms largely in tact. Buzz has shown that he has no interest in wearing our school colors at games (Louisville coach had a red and black tie on. What a novel idea.). But let our players wear them.

      1. I support breast cancer awareness and public information about any potentially deadly disease, but I agree that wearing pink uniforms is not the way to accomplish this. Quite frankly, I think the pink uniforms were ridiculous and our team looked silly wearing them.

  4. It feels so weird how this team used to be an offensive juggernaut and could hardly play good defense. Now the roles have flipped and we couldn’t buy a bucket at the end of the game. It is perhaps the most frustrating to watch right now, that so many of our players look timid or reserved when they have the ball in their hands. But the stifling, turnover producing defense is fun to watch!

  5. Bibbs and Hill went a combined 8-25 FG (3-14 3pt)…at home. What gives? Most of their 3s were wide open looks. Tech has zero margin for error, so we need everyone to play their role. For Bibbs and Hill, it’s knocking down open jump shots. Need to finish the season strong to carry momentum into the postseason.

  6. One note. Sutton’s shot was not that tough right? He was wide open in the right corner. Clarke was the closest player and he was on the block. So yes, the bounce and going in made it seem tough but wide open.

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