Miami at Virginia Tech
No. 15/16 Virginia Tech (22-7, 11-6) will host Miami (13-16, 5-12) in Cassell Coliseum on Friday night in the final regular season game of the year. It will also be Senior Night for three players who have played a big role in the turnaround of the program.
Robinson is Tech’s all-time leader in assists, though it’s unknown whether or not he’ll be able to play. He has not played since Virginia Tech beat Miami 82-70 back on January 30. He has been out of his walking boot for the last several games, and he’s getting up shots with his teammates in shootarounds, but his status for tonight’s game is unknown. Nevertheless, Robinson will get a huge ovation from the crowd during pregame ceremonies.
Ahmed Hill has started 110 of his 128 career games, and he’s a 38.2% career three-point shooter. His 1,396 career points ranks No. 21 in Virginia Tech history. He needs just 12 more points to tie Deron Washington for No. 20. Hill is one of Buzz Williams’ favorite players that he’s ever coached, and commands a lot of respect from his teammates.
Ty Outlaw is a sixth year senior who came to Virginia Tech via junior college after a year at UNC Greensboro. He has missed two seasons at Virginia Tech, one because of a heart condition and another because of a torn ACL. He’s persevered, dropped weight to become a better defender, and been one of the best three-point shooters in school history. He’s a 47.1% shooter from the outside for his career on 261 attempts. As a comparison, Justin Bibbs is officially Tech’s all-time leader in three-point percentage at 42.4% on 599 attempts. Outlaw will become Tech’s career record holder if he ends his career averaging 2.0 three-pointers per game. Right now, he has 123 makes in 62 career games, just under two makes per game.
Those three players will be trying to close their home careers on a high note, and they’ll have a pretty good matchup at home against a Miami Hurricane team they handled fairly easily on the road (with Justin Robinson) back in late January.
The key stat for this game: Miami is 0-9 on the road this season. They’ve lost all eight ACC road games, and they were also defeated by Penn in Philadelphia back in December. They nearly pulled off an upset at UNC last month, and they also lost by one in a recent game at Wake Forest, but other than that the Hurricanes haven’t shown the ability to be competitive on the road. Miami has also beaten just one team ranked in the top 70 of Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, a narrow 65-64 home win over Clemson back on February 13.
Defense has been the Hurricanes’ Achilles heel so far this season. Here are their defensive metrics in ACC play…
Def. Eff. (Pomeroy): No. 11
Eff. FG Def.: No. 14
Turnover %: No. 5
Opp. Off. Reb. %: No. 10
3-Pt.%: No. 14
2-Pt.%: No. 13
Block %: No. 15
The ability to force turnovers has been Miami’s only saving grace this season. Other than that, their performance on the defensive end has been poor. To make matters worse, ACC opponents are shooting 75.3% from the free throw line against the ‘Canes this year, which is the highest mark in the league. Obviously that’s a stat that is out of Miami’s control, however.
Offensively, Miami has been better, but still below average.
Off. Eff. (Pomeroy): No. 9
Eff. FG %: No. 9
Turnover Rate: No. 3
Off. Rebound %: No. 13
3-Pt.%: No. 10
2-Pt.%: No. 9
Again, Miami is very good where turnovers are concerned, but below average when it comes to just about everything else. Tech must keep the ‘Canes off the free throw line, because that’s the one area where they can hang with the opposition. Miami is shooting 75.4% from the free throw line against ACC opponents this year, good for third in the league.
Here is Miami’s projected starting lineup…
G Chris Lykes (5-7, 157, So.): 16.2 ppg, 3.1 apg. Lykes is the smallest player the Hokies have faced this year, but he’s scored in double figures in 24 of 29 games.
G DJ Vasiljevic (6-3, 184, Jr.): 11.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg. Vasiljevic ranks eighth in career three-pointers at Miami with 191.
G Zach Johnson (6-2, 192, r-Sr.): 12 ppg, 3 rpg. Johnson has 34 steals in ACC games this year, which ranks No. 2 in the league.
G Anthony Lawrence II (6-7, 207, Sr.): 12.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg. Miami’s best overall player on balance, Lawrence had 25 points and 13 rebounds in Miami’s win in Cassell Coliseum last season.
C Ebuka Izundu (6-10, 232, Sr.): 11 ppg, 8.8 rpg. Izundu is a dangerous post player who has 12 double-digit rebounding games this year.
Like Virginia Tech, Miami is a senior-laden team. We know that Jim Larranaga is a good coach, so that means the issues the Hurricanes have are probably related to talent. They are also a depth-shy team, like the Hokies, playing just seven players in their rotation.
We don’t know whether or not Justin Robinson will be able to play tonight, but either way the Hokies have a good opportunity to send their seniors out in style.