No. 7/9 Virginia Tech Sneaks Out A Win In Atlanta

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Justin Robinson Virginia Tech
Justin Robinson and his Virginia Tech teammates snuck out of Atlanta with a win on Wednesday. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Despite their worst offensive game of the season, No. 7/9 Virginia Tech left Atlanta 52-49 winners over Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.  The Hokies improved to 14-1 overall, matching their best start in school history dating way back in 1982-83.  They are 3-0 in ACC play.  The Yellow Jackets dropped to 9-6 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

Georgia Tech entered Wednesday night’s game as one of the nation’s best defensive teams, and one of the worst offensive teams.  That’s exactly how the game played out.  The Yellow Jackets stymied Virginia Tech’s offense like no other team has been able to do this year, but committed 18 turnovers, including two on their final two possessions.

Trailing 51-49 with an opportunity to take the final shot, Georgia Tech threw the ball out-of-bounds against a tough VT defense with just over three seconds remaining.  They fouled Justin Robinson on the inbounds, who made one of two free throw attempts to make the score 52-49 with 1.8 seconds remaining.  The Yellow Jackets threw a deep ball past the halfcourt line in an effort to get off a final shot, but senior forward Abdoulaye Gueye stepped over the inbounds line on the pass, which gave the ball back to Virginia Tech.  The Hokies inbounded and ran out the final 1.8 seconds.

Besides those two plays, down the stretch Georgia Tech also missed an easy layup, missed the front end of a one-and-one, and stepped out of bounds while dribbling in front of their own bench.  Head coach Josh Pastner also used his final timeout with 1:28 left in the game.

Virginia Tech led nearly the entire game, and in fact led by 10 points on two occasions early in the second half.  PJ Horne got a layup in the paint to put the Hokies up 39-29 with 16:20 remaining, and with the way Georgia Tech’s offense was performing up to that point, it looked like Virginia Tech had a chance to blow the game open.

That didn’t happen, as the Yellow Jackets steadily fought their way back into the game despite their own offensive ineptitude.  They even managed to take the lead 49-47 with 3:25 remaining on a basket in the paint from Brandon Austin with the shot clock winding down.  However, that lead was short-lived, as Justin Robinson answered by banking in a three-pointer on the other end to give the Hokies a 50-49 lead with 3:09 left.  That’s when the Yellow Jackets began their comedy of errors down the stretch, and Virginia Tech was able to escape with the win.

This was a strange game statistically.  Virginia Tech forced 18 turnovers while committing just nine of their own.  They beat the Yellow Jackets on the boards, outrebounding them 35-32, and whipping them on the offensive glass 13-3.  Usually those numbers would mean a double-digit Hokie win, but that didn’t happen on Wednesday thanks to excellent Georgia Tech defense and a bad shooting night from the Hokies.

Virginia Tech was just 17-of-57 (29.8%) from the field and 5-of-27 (18.5%) from three-point range.  Those two percentages, plus the total number of points of 52, all marked season lows for the Hokies.  Nickeil Alexander-Walker was just 1-of-13 from the field and scored only four points, though he did dish out six assists.  Despite all of that, the Hokies were able to win the game thanks to strong defense, a banked-in three-pointer from Justin Robinson, and sloppy play from the Yellow Jackets down the stretch.

Ahmed Hill led the Hokies with 15 points, while Kerry Blackshear had 14 points and 10 rebounds.  Justin Robinson added 10 points. 

The Hokies get nearly an entire week off before returning to action next Tuesday.  They’ll travel to Charlottesville for a big matchup with No. 1/4 UVA.  Tipoff is scheduled for 8pm, and the game will be televised by Raycom Sports.  Check your local listings.

Virginia Tech Box Score

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26 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Some nights shots don’t fall. But you can still win when you play great defense. I like and agree. “As demented as it sounds, a lot of what transpired tonight was very good for us,” Hokies coach Buzz Williams said.

  2. The TV commentators were talking about VT’s poor shooting & noted that VT was not able to have a shoot-around prior to the game & that this could account for some of the poor shooting. When teams travel it takes time to adjust to a foreign environment & it is hard to get into a shooting rhythm without some prior repetition.

    1. Maybe worse game Ive seen two ACC teams play..Period. This and Penn St
      game do not bode well for this experienced group. Our place in the top ten is a
      most generous nod and not a good reflection on the state of the college game.
      Alot of talent on this squad, hard to account for all of them going into the tank in the same game. Hopefully, they will regroup and get the season they , imo, deserve.

  3. Can we stop the “No. 7/9 Hokies” in the title of the article? No one was saying the #13/14 Hokies earlier in the season. Everyone who knows basketball or is a Hokie fan knows these guys are good.

  4. Good win using defense when offense was terrible. Imagine intensity and focus on offense will be better for the next game. uva, nuff said!!

  5. No one is hand checking you at the foul line. KB and JR missed pressure foul shots down the stretch that concerns you about better competition. Gotta love this team, but charity strip misses almost cost us this game.

  6. I thought for sure I was watching replay of the Penn State game, but very glad to get the W! Despite the poor shooting, this team showed mental toughness and kept grinding all the way until the end and hopefully that’s a good sign as well as keeping them from getting overly focused on current ranking. With NAW in deep freeze shooting mode for the entire game, let’s hope that his off night for this season is now in his rear view mirror. It was ugly for sure, but we’ll take the W! Let’s go Hokies…. On to C’Ville and beating the Hoos!

  7. Not sure why so many are getting concerned. Every team will have off nights. The key is to find a way to win and they did that. Having played this sport in the past, sometimes you just don’t have it. Hopefully your teammates pick up the slack. Good win as far as I am concerned!

    1. Hopefully after reading nkhooch you have an idea why people are concerned. AF_DC asks if we can stop with the “No 7/9” – Don’t worry, we will as soon as we get into the heart of our next 6 games.

      Which is the point, ToughT, after that performance, where the teammates didn’t really pick up the slack, how do you see us doing in the ACC schedule? Ranked where we are, we should finish 3rd. I’ll just bet that we don’t finish that high – that’s why so many are getting concerned. I hope we finish 3rd or higher, and are ranked 7/9 or higher, but I don’t see it after the GT game. Do you?

  8. Venting for a bit. Glad for the win but after 3 ACC games are we still feeling like a lock for a 6 or better NCAA seed? We’ve played 3 teams in the ACC who are in the lower 3rd of the conference, 2 at home. As we start to look at ACC-only stats we are no longer going to be near the top of the league in shooting pct and we haven’t played any good teams yet. They played excellent defense and kept us from scoring going to the basket. But we ran our perimeter offense well and most of our 3 attempts were open looks. We scored 23 points in the 2nd half and won the game because of a banked 3
    and their ineptness. I think every NBA team should see this game and that might keep NAW around Tech for another year. He lost composure when the fans started chanting “air ball” He forced some shots. He turned the ball over late. 0 points in the 2nd half. If we had lost this game it would have been largely on him stat-wise. 1 for 13? He made some nice passes and played good D although he didn’t record a steal. This was easily the worst 2nd half of ball we played this year. Not just bad shooting but several more TOs and many missed FTs. We will play other defenses as good as GT. And teams with much better offenses. My confidence is shaken a bit. I would expect an experienced team to play much better on the road and we have GT and PSU as samples at this point and we are averaging 57 pts in those two road games. The gym tonight was half full and we had a lot of fans there. So it wasn’t as near a hostile environment as we will face in future games. The win is important but Yuck! After this game I had much the same feeling as our bowl win against Rutgers. Just not feeling like a top 10 team right now. Maybe the pressure of potentially being one of the best VT teams ever is getting to them a little. Or maybe it’s getting to me! Ok, I’m done. Thanks for listening.

    1. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out the rest of the year, but if you tell me we shoot <30% from the field and <20% from 3, and miss many FTs down the stretch, on the road, I predict a loss. But we played solid D, created turnovers and outrebounded a much taller team, and found a way to win. That tells me something about experience and mental toughness. Every team is going to have an off night offensively, but you can always play hard on D and on the boards, and overcome those off nights. That’s what this team did tonight, not something that our b-ball team has done a lot of in the past.

      1. No complaints with effort or intensity. That was there for sure. But mental toughness has to result in execution. The final component of execution is making the shot which we normally do at a high %. This was not just an off shooting night. It was a way off night. Fortunately we were playing a weak team and they handed us the win anyway. Hopefully it was a one time thing. I think we should feel good about the win and good about how hard we played and Buzz did his job. But I dont feel like we found a way to win. They found a way to lose. But we needed it and will take it!

    2. I agree with most of what you said but I was in the building and it was closer to 80% full and also the student section was completely full (I was seated right across the aisle from them). Obviously games like @ Duke, @ UVa will be way more hostile but that was a solid college basketball environment.
      Also it wasn’t just NAW that got rattled by the students. J-Rob also had some back and forth with them too.

      All in all I think Buzz had it right. This kind of game is what this team needed. Sort of like when you get hit hard for the first time in a football game, it wakes you up and you realize you have to take your effort and intensity up to match.

      1. I was in the building too. You are more right on attendance. ESPN shows 6,200 attendance or 72% of capacity. Team admitted that the PSU crowd affected them as well. Good news is we are undefeated on neutral courts which is where tournaments are played.

  9. Can we handle the pressure of being a top 10 team.. Did not seem like that tonight. Hope I am wrong.
    Walker should have sat more tonight. Love him, but not sure he is ready for NBA.

  10. I like that UVa has another road game at Clemson on Saturday, after the long road trip to Boston. Our guys did not look sharp and a week’s rest might help focus. ‘Comedy of errors’ applied to both squads tonight.

    BTW, I might eke out a win, or sneak out a window, but I wouldn’t sneak out a win.

    1. There should be no pressure for us against 15IR (uva). Maybe the shots will fall better than they did tonight.

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