Virginia Tech Falls To Virginia 64-58

Buzz Williams Virginia Tech
Buzz Williams got the Hokies enough good looks on Monday, but they couldn’t make enough shots. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

No. 20 Virginia Tech fell to No. 3 UVA 64-58 in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday night.  The Hokies dropped to 20-6 overall and 9-5 in the ACC, while the Hoos improved to 23-2 overall and 11-2 in conference play.

The big statistic in this game was three-point shooting.  Virginia Tech came into this game shooting 41.8% from three-point range, but they had a terrible shooting night from the outside.  The Hokies were just 3-of-28 (10.7%) from three-point range, which marks their worst performance in an ACC game since they went 1-of-12 (8.3%) at Duke on January 9, 2016.

Four Virginia Tech players – Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Ahmed Hill, Kerry Blackshear and Ty Outlaw – played all 40 minutes.  Blackshear once again led the Hokies.  After scoring 29 points with nine rebounds on Saturday against Pitt, he had 23 points, 13 rebounds and two steals against UVA.  He was 10-of-14 from the field, 1-of-4 from the outside, and 2-of-3 from the free throw line.  He also became the 48th player to score 1,000 career points for Virginia Tech in his career.

“I think statistically it speaks to how important he is,” Buzz Williams said. “We are still trying to figure out a set where he can dribble and then pass to himself and then make a decision from there. I just mentioned on the radio that one thing that I learned from Blackshear is not how good he is but the response of the other six kids of being accepting of how important he is to be the focal point, whether that’s to score or to make a decision. He makes the game easier for our other guys.”

Ahmed Hill added 16 points for Tech, but he was only 1-of-9 from three-point range.  Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 11 points, four assists and three steals, but he was 0-of-6 from the outside.  Ty Outlaw was 1-of-6 from the outside, while Wabissa Bede was 0-of-3.

Despite the awful shooting night, the Tech players and head coach were not willing to use that an excuse for the loss, instead giving all the credit to UVA’s defense.

“All credit to Virginia,” Williams said. “Incredibly well coached. Early entry Hall of Fame coach. Very disciplined on how they play on both ends of the floor. Their defense was third in the country and their offense is fifth, so you are for sure stressed out regardless of whether you have possession of the ball or not. All credit to them defensively.”

UVA head coach Tony Bennett said his team played better defensively in the second half, but that in the first half the Hokies just missed open shots.

“I think in the first half they missed wide open shots,” Bennett said. “They are hard to guard, they run good actions, slips, they can shoot it. We didn’t do a good job. We were very poor with our underneath defense. We gave up so many easy baskets, then they just missed threes. They hit some early second half. I thought we at least were there contesting, challenging, and maybe at times made them miss [in the second half]. We played a better, sounder, tougher game physically and mentally. First half that wasn’t the case, second half it was for us.”

Virginia Tech was 20-of-30 (66.7%) on two-point shots, and they executed their offense at a good enough level to get good looks, especially considering they were facing one of the nation’s elite defensive teams.  The Hokies had 13 offensive rebounds to UVA’s 10 and outscored the Hoos 18-13 in second chance points.  They also forced 13 turnovers while committing only eight, and outscored UVA 13-6 in points off turnovers and 38-16 on points in the paint.  In the end, it was simply a matter of UVA shooting 40.7% from the outside, nearly their exact season average of 40%, and the Hokies shooting just 10.7%.

Virginia Tech
Ahmed Hill (13) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (4) combined to shoot just 1-of-15 from the outside. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech led 13-10 early, and they had a great opportunity to hold the lead for longer, because future first round draft pick De’Andre Hunter only played six minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.  As Tony Bennett alluded to in the postgame, the Hokies had numerous open outside shot attempts in the first half, but they just couldn’t knock them down.  Despite Hunter being on the bench, Virginia still took a 32-29 lead into the halftime intermission.

The Hokies started strong in the second half, with Ahmed Hill nailing one of his patented corner three-pointers off an inbounds pass to tie the game at 32.  However, that was the last time the game would be tied, as the Hoos were able to gradually extend their lead to as many as 13 points at 56-43 with 5:51 remaining thanks to poor Tech shooting and their own ability to make timely shots in clutch situations. 

The Hokies cut the lead to 58-51 on a Kerry Blackshear shot with 2:32 remaining, and that capped a short 4-0 run that really got the crowd into the game.  However, Kyle Guy answered with a three-pointer 23 seconds later to take the lead back to 10 points.  Tech again cut the lead to seven points, 61-54, with 1:25 left, but again the Hoos answered with a three-point dagger, this time by Alabama transfer Braxton Key with 57 seconds left.  Key came into the game shooting 26.2% from the outside, but he was 2-of-4 against Tech and hit two key shots in the second half.  His second three-pointer all but eliminated any chance of a Hokie rally.

Virginia Tech will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Notre Dame to take on the Fighting Irish.  Tipoff is scheduled for 4pm, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN.

Game Notes from Virginia Tech

The Hokies entered the game ranked 20th in the AP poll and 18th in the USA Today Coaches poll. Virginia was ranked third in both polls.

Kerry Blackshear scored 23 points. It marks the 19th time this season he has scored in double figures and his fifth 20-+ point game of the season. He also grabbed 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season and ninth of his career.

With his 23 points, Blackshear became the 48th player in Virginia Tech history to score 1,000 career points. He now has 1,002 points. The Hokies now have three current players with at least 1,000 career points.

Ahmed Hill scored 16 points, his 17th game in double figures. He moved past teammate Justin Robinson into 23rd place in career scoring at Virginia Tech. He now has 1,353 career points.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 11 points. It is the 22nd time this season he has scored in double figures.

The Cavaliers now lead the all-time series, 93-56. Tech is now 29-23 at home against UVa, including a 16-9 mark in Cassell Coliseum.

Blackshear is now averaging 19.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in the month of February. He is shooting 60 percent from the floor, including 53.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He also is shooting 86.8 percent from the free-throw line.

Virginia Tech Box Score 

17 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Not being a BB guy, two questions/points. One, it seems as if hitting shots is more a factor of the phase of the moon or something other that technique or practice, second it seems as if the players in the corners were mostly spectators while UVA had a lot more movement away from the ball on offense. Could playing minutes be the cause?

  2. As much as I enjoy watching and rooting for this team the one thing it lacks other than #5 is a clutch player. Someone that can hit the shot when we absolutely have to have it. We don’t have a go to player.

  3. Offense looked smooth as silk on some sweet entry passes in the paint during the first half. Too bad the open 3s weren’t falling. I’d like to see us use some of that offense going forward against FSU and Duke.
    I feel like we CAN win @ ND and UM without Robinson if we play like we did last night, but not if we play like we played at Klempson. We could have a chance against FSU if everything falls right, but that has been our Little Shop of Horrors ever since Les Henson smote them down with this 89′ shot at the buzzer.

  4. VT basketball is snake bitten. This would have probably been our best team in history, but we lose Clarke before the season and 5 now. Over the years, it seems every time we get ready to break through something happens. VT is not saying how badly 5’s ankle/foot is and that makes me think he’s done for the rest of the season. What a friggin’ shame.

  5. UVA hit clutch 3s & we didn’t. End of story. Hokies had plenty of open looks & couldn’t capitalize. Played well enough to win so that’s encouraging. Need to move on & get ready for ND.

  6. UVA is the real deal: outstanding guards, good bigs, and first rounder Hunter. Great combination. But with even 30% from the three-line , the Hokies would have had five or six more threes, and if my math is correct, those 15-18 points would have made this a veeeery interesting game. I wonder if the 10% hit rate was due to tired legs from a great Tech defense and a very good UVA team. At any rate, Bennett is classy and the Hoos are real, and I hope they go all the way. A.H.

  7. Great effort by the team. Let’s face it we were heavily outmanned but they played really tough. Just needed some of those 3’s to fall. Any idea when Justin will be back?? At this point I’m think he may not come back.

  8. Blackshear is continuing to amaze me with his game and maturity. He will be a professional player. NAW game has really struggled lately, and his drives to the basket show he needs another year in strength and conditioning. There is no doubt that Robinson makes this team better. He can drive the basket, shoot the 3, and create more open shots for everyone. Wilkins and Kabongo look like they will be quality players in our future. I do believe the team will be much better when Robinson comes back, and we will make a deep run in the NCAA if he is back by then. Go Hokies!

  9. we made our average of 3’s (10/game), that was a comfortable victory. that was just a terrible shooting night. can’t wait to get 5 back…hopefully!!

  10. The 3’s were just not dropping, there was a lot of iron hit and even a few in & out; but the 3’s just weren’t going. If they had just hit 20% it could have been a different game. Kerry looked good and was a work horse.

    I look forward to the return of Justin as the team has missed him.

    Looking forward to the next game.

  11. I’m still in shock at the 3 for 28 shooting from beyond the arc. A few more 3s and we would have been in it to the end.
    As always, great hustle for a team that has practically no reserve firepower.

  12. Good effort. Defense got us 8 extra shots and we couldn’t capitalize. We didn’t even need a good shooting night to win, just not a horrible night. Only thing I was a little disappointed in was not getting Wilkins and Kabonga some more shot attempts. Starters are playing a lot of minutes and understandably tired at the end. But Hill was still forcing 3s when he clearly didn’t have it. Several times Kobonga was all alone in the corner and they never got him the ball. Starters just kept passing among themselves and shooting. Why not give the fresh legs some shots. They could not have done any worse. Great to see the maroon tie on Buzz! Do I need to be worried that KB is on such a roll that he could leave a year early? His shooting % from everywhere on the floor in recent games is mind blowing. He is making 3s and some tough interior shots also. He has really been a star. He could be the player that saves us from a big drop off next year.

    1. Kerry is pro ready right now- probably Europe’s A league to begin with. His hard work has shown amazing results! He has some back to the basket moves and he can pass well for a man his size. That fade away he’s been working on will earn him some money if he perfects it!

      1. Blackshear has already said he’s coming back next year and then wants to play in Europe.
        Regarding 5, rumor has it he had a steel plate put in his foot sometime ago.
        IMO if he comes back to play the earliest would be when we play UM, maybe at FSU! 🤞

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