No. 13 Virginia Tech Falls to Penn State 63-62

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Buzz Williams Virginia Tech
Things did not go well for the Hokies on Tuesday night at Penn State. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

No. 13 Virginia Tech went on the road and lost to Penn State 63-62 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.  The Hokies dropped to 5-1 with the loss, while the Nittany Lions improved to 4-2.

It’s common knowledge at this point that Virginia Tech struggles to rebound consistently, which creates extra possessions for their opponents.  To attempt to offset that disadvantage, the Hokies have been aggressive defensively in an effort to force turnovers and even out the possessions.  Coming into Tuesday’s game, Tech was No. 35 nationally out of 353 teams in extra scoring chances per game.

However, the strategy didn’t work against Penn State.  The Nittany Lions were +6 in offensive rebounding margin, while the Hokies were only +1 in turnover margin, for a net of +5 for Penn State.  In the end, Penn State attempted seven more shots (57-50) and won the game by one point, despite the Hokies shooting 10-of-19 (52.6%) from three-point range.  Tech did force 16 turnovers, but committed 15 of their own, including six by point guard Justin Robinson, against an imposing Penn State defense that entered the game ranked No. 42 nationally in defensive efficiency.

On the whole, it was Virginia Tech’s worst offensive performance of the season, with just nine assists for the game.  They came into the contest averaging 18 assists per game.

Robinson paced the Hokies with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting.  Kerry Blackshear, in one of his rare moments this season where he was not in foul trouble, had 14 points and nine rebounds.  Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 13 points, while Ty Outlaw came off the bench to score 16.  However, senior wing Ahmed Hill did not score, was 0-of-6 from the field, and had a rough stretch in the final seconds that helped Penn State win the game.

The Hokies had the ball with 28 seconds remaining, trailing 63-62.  Penn State played good defense out of the timeout, and Justin Robinson rushed a three-pointer from well beyond the line with about 12 seconds remaining.  The shot missed, but the ball rolled free to Hill on the baseline.  Hill had a good look, but his mid-range shot hit the side of the backboard and Penn State grabbed the rebound, and the Hokies fouled them.  Tech had two timeouts remaining, and probably should have used one once the original playcall out of the timeout did not work.

The misery didn’t end there for Hill.  Penn State missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Hokies, with two timeouts remaining, could have either called a timeout or pushed the ball up the court quickly with a chance at a final shot.  Hill grabbed the rebound and chose the latter, but airmailed a pass to midcourt to Penn State forward John Harrar, who was fouled with 0.7 seconds remaining.  He missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Tech called timeout with 0.4 seconds left, but couldn’t corral the fullcourt pass and get off a final shot.

Virginia Tech is now 6-3 all-time against Penn State, with all three losses coming in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  The Hokies return to action this Saturday when they host Central Connecticut State in Cassell Coliseum.  Tipoff is scheduled for 5pm, approximately 1.5 hours after the football game with Marshall will end.  The game can be seen online on ACC Network Extra.

Virginia Tech Box Score

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20 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. What is the latest on Nolley? Thought he took the test over about 2 weeks ago, is the person responsible for grading on vacation?? As far as Clarke, if he was done I would think Coach would cut and move on. Sounds like if there is some possibility of a return.

  2. PSU won 26 games last year and the NIT. They are hardly mediocre. Hill didn’t score a single point in 38′. What’s the probability of that? He comes into the game averaging 15.4. If he makes just one basket we win. We also didn’t score in the last 3′. If we won, the posts on this board are different. The game was there for the taking despite the miscues. As for the problems w/KB is that he’s the only big man we have.

  3. Why didn’t Wilkins play? Is he in Buzz’s dog house or injured? We could’ve used his big body in the paint yesterday.

  4. I don’t recall any transition baskets off of missed shots and I guess that’s because we have so much trouble just getting the defensive rebound. With a 4 guard offense playing up tempo and getting more shots is our only offset against bigger, better rebounding teams.

    We don’t play a tough pre-ACC schedule. I have this dream that one year we will win every pre-ACC game that we should (favored). We are always getting upset at least once every year. This year that would have made us 12-0. We already beat the toughest team on our pre-ACC schedule in Purdue. The Penn State loss is not something to be ashamed of but we should have won. We have one more test in Washington. Hoping for 11-1 now.

    I wish Blackshear could become a passer out of the post. Once he gets the ball he is only thinking shot and last night he got the ball too far away from the basket several times and took some very difficult shots. A couple times after failing to improve his position he did wisely pass up the shot but got himself so out of balance he almost traveled before passing the ball in desperation. Note they didn’t even double team him because his back to the basket post moves aren’t that good. When Jeff Allen would get the ball in the post he was almost unguardable by a single player because his moves were so quick. But Blackshear got 14 pts / 9 rebounds so overall he had a decent game.

    On his pre-game interview on the radio Buzz said we have played Iowa/Penn State in 7 out of the 15 Big 10 challenge games we have played. When he said that it sounded as if he was wanting to (or deserved to) play some games against upper echelon Big 10 teams. Losing to Penn State doesn’t help his case.

  5. I almost went up to P$U for the game. Glad I didn’t. Hokies lacked focus and, especially, poise down the stretch. Penn State is a lower-echelon B1G Team. We should have dispatched them handily. The lack of focus manifested itself in numerous physical and mental mistakes. Inconsistency remains the hallmark of VT hoops. Hopefully this non-conference loss will serve as a learning experience that we can build on for ACC play.

    1. I was there it wasn’t pretty. I was expecting the team we saw in the Charleston tourney. Really frustrating part is PSU really wasn’t very good. Could kinda see this loss coming though. First true road game, I believe. Rebounding was painful-as were turnovers. Was hoping to see some revenge as I was at the game a couple of years ago at PSU, in Buzz’s first (or second?)season…When we had that 6’2″ guard from Germany (Mueller?) playing the 4/5.

  6. “It’s common knowledge at this point that Virginia Tech struggles to rebound consistently…” Why is that? OK, I know we don’t have length, but a good portion of rebounding is technique and desire. We show no knowledge of how to box out (PSU put on a clinic). When we do rebound it seems like they poke at the ball with one hand or don’t fully grasp the ball….it is often poked out. Way too often everyone just stands flat-footed, as if they have no desire to get the ball, especially on long rebounds. And since the last 3 or 4 opponents were not fast break teams, why is (essentially) no one staying back and going for an O rebound? Other teams do vs us, and we ARE a fast break team (though you couldn’t tell it last night). Do we not have a coach that is in charge of teaching rebounding fundamentals? I see this as a cop out. WORK ON IT!

    1. The answer is simple: We struggle to rebound effectively because we have one legit big man playing with four guards. The root cause is that Buzz has been unable to recruit effectively at the center and power forward positions; let alone maintain depth there. The center we have (Blackshear), while talented, has not learned how to play under control and stay out of foul trouble.

      1. Be nice to be able to bring KB off the bench like Coach did with LeDay, give him a chance to see how the flow is going. Think KB is so worried about fouls he can’t play loose.

  7. Turn-overs and Med Hill, being Med Hill, Mr. Inconsistency, the story of the game. The real problem is with Outlaw already in the game, Buzz has no one on the bench to help in “crunch time.” We win IF Chris Clarke would be on team. However; I expect Clarke’s return will not happen. Sad.

  8. Not a pretty performance at all. Hill was some place lost in the hills of Pa. Tired of seeing these players go for the basket only to have the ball smacked in the seats or out of bounds or into the Tech players. We don’t have the height to do this!!! Definitely not the number 13 team in the country or any where close to being in the top 10. More work to be done for certain. Disappointing effort against a good opponent.

  9. Just my take on what I saw tonight! VT MBB defense was non-existent! They let wide open shots on the perimeter because they were slow to react and they kept on double teaming and letting open a perimeter PSU player.
    Blackshear seems clueless at times more times than not! Hill was there in body only! If Alexander plays like this the only NBA league he’s going to next year, if he leaves VT, is the NBA G league! Robinson was at times playing out if control and Bede needs to shoot when he has a open shot!
    Outlaw was Outlaw!
    VT MBB needs Clarke back and Nolley to get cleared by the NCAA quickly!

  10. Pretty bad basketball by our team tonight…..hopefully some learning will take place after watching the film.

    1. This is a veteran team I wouldn’t expect to see much learning going on from film. At this point they are who they are and it was just a bad night all around. Re. Hill, why stick with someone all night who obviously didn’t have his head in the game, he was PSU’s 6th man, tough to win 4 on 6.

      1. Yes, this is a veteran team with a senior point guard. We should expect more disciplined, mentally alert play from all of them.

      2. Hill had a poor night from an offensive perspective but, the reason you stay with him is because he was probably the best defensive option(and generally effective) against a bigger more physical PSU team. With Clarke not around, Nolley in NCAA exile, the need to manage the Blackshear/Horne rotation and Wilkins still getting his competitive feet under him there really were not a lot of other options. I have no idea what was going through Hill’s mind at game end and on the offensive side but, except for a couple of times going under versus over top of a screen he seemed, at least to me, to have his head in the game on the defensive end and to his credit, in my opinion, he did not let the struggles at the offensive end affect his effort at the defensive end.

        1. Since Outlaw can’t get his own shot, and PSU kept a man close to him, I’d have brought Horne in towards the end. While I think we do some nice things off Blackshear picking for 5, I’d also do some pick and pop with Outlaw and 5, may be the only way to get him some looks. Thought PJ would be more effective than Ty.

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