No. 14 Virginia Tech defeated VMI 89-68 in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night to move to 7-1 on the season. The Keydets dropped to 5-5 on the season.
The Hokies generally played well, and in fact led by 37 points (67-30) with 11:44 remaining in the game. However, after committing just two turnovers in the first half, they got sloppy with the ball in the final 10 minutes of the game, and VMI was able to make the game more respectable. Tech finished with 11 turnovers for the game, though most came well after the outcome was decided.
“I thought we played really well in the first half,” Buzz Williams said after the game. “We only had two turnovers. I thought we started out in the second half well; what was it 14-0? And then there were two ATO segments that we lost. We became sloppy offensively, had too many turnovers, gave up too many baskets in transition. Our grouping was messed up on purpose because Ahmed [Hill] fouled out, we were playing Ty [Outlaw] and P.J. [Horne] up top together. I could’ve called a timeout; I was trying to see if they could work through it, but yes we were sloppy during that segment.”
Nevertheless, Tech won the game by a big margin of 21 points. The Hokies placed four players in double figures. Justin Robinson had 18 points and five assists, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 15 points. PJ Horne had 12 points and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, to go along with five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. Freshman Isaiah Wilkins came off the bench to finish with 13 points.
Williams is pleased with the development of Wilkins.
“I would say it’s the fastest progression of any player that I’ve coached. The first day that he worked at Virginia Tech was the day after Labor Day because he didn’t go to summer school. His body has gone through probably as fast a metamorphosis – in a good way – that I’ve ever seen, and I think that’s very taxing, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well.”
Ty Outlaw was Tech’s top rebounder with 11 boards. He was just one point away from a double-double, finishing with nine points.
Virginia Tech was 30-of-58 (51.7%) from the field and 11-of-25 (44%) from three-point range. They had 19 assists on 30 made baskets, they outrebounded VMI 35-29, and they forced 15 Keydet turnovers.
The Hokies have just four games remaining before conference play begins on January 1 against Notre Dame.
“We have four games left to go in December; Washington will be an outlier because every possession will be in zone,” Williams said. “But a lot of what VMI was doing tonight defensively we have not played against, and those were good reps for us. We have to continue to improve on us, but when we get to play against teams that are unique, those reps become very important.”
The Hokies will return to action this Sunday, December 9, when they host South Carolina State. Tipoff is scheduled for 1pm, and the game can be seen online on ACC Network Extra.
Game Notes from Virginia Tech
The Hokies entered the game ranked 15th in the AP poll and 14th in the USA Today Coaches poll.
Justin Robinson scored a team-high 18 points. He has recorded double figures in seven of the eight games this season.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 15 points. He has scored in double figures in all eight games this season.
P.J. Horne scored 12 points. It is a season high for him and the first time this season he has scored in double figures.
Isaiah Wilkins scored 12 points. The second time this season he has scored in double figures.
Ty Outlaw grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and missed his first career double-double by just one point.