Shooting Woes Doom Virginia Tech In Eight-Point Loss To North Carolina

Virginia Tech had chances, it just couldn’t convert on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

Entering Saturday afternoon’s XXL contest in Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech ranked second in Division I in offensive 3-point percentage. Its opponent, North Carolina, was No. 279 in defending the long ball.

Yet, for the second time this season, the Hokies struggled from deep against the Tar Heels. Two games, 12-of-44 (27%) from behind the arc. And for the second time, Virginia Tech fell to UNC, this time 65-57.

In a crucial game regarding the NCAA Tournament bubble, Tech couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. The shots weren’t all highly contested, either, which adds to the frustration. But a season-low 19.2% (5-of-26) from long range doomed the Hokies against North Carolina, and it might come back to haunt them come March.

“I thought we got great shot after great shot,” Tech head coach Mike Young said after the loss. “If we were going to go out and play it again and throw the thing in the air, I would take the same shot. We’ve been so free and so… impressive offensively, but we had a tough night.”

Virginia Tech (16-11, 8-8 ACC) had the right formula against North Carolina (19-8, 11-5). Don’t let Hubert Davis & Co. dominate the glass, keep them off the free throw line, and stop them in transition.

The rebounding margin: 38-31, and VT had nine offensive boards to UNC’s five. Carolina was 5-of-7 from the charity stripe until it went 8-for-8 in the final 60 seconds when the Hokies had to foul. And fast break points? 13-0 in favor of the Tar Heels, but only two points came in the second half.

“They had one first half offensive rebound,” Young said. “I thought we were really, really good there. Guards helped us and down on [Armando] Bacot and [Brady] Manek. We altered some matchups with Manek because he’s going to ball screen and pop out of that thing. We could get Aluma or Mutts on him.

“I thought we did a very good job there. … But not quite good enough.”

Tech just didn’t have enough shots fall against UNC. (Ivan Morozov)

Down the stretch, Tech’s defense was very solid. Not quite superb – allowing an Bacot second chance basket that led UNC run away with it wasn’t good – but the Tar Heels only scored 17 points (8-of-22) from the floor in the second half.

But the door didn’t stay open for forever. Eventually, Carolina slammed it in Tech’s face. The Hokies had a 11-2 run from 14:16 to 7:12, just over seven minutes. During that stretch, UNC missed seven straight shots and turned the ball over five times.

However, Tech couldn’t take advantage. It made 5-of-12 (41.7%) attempts, which isn’t poor. Just not enough against this North Carolina team, one that pulled away soon after and got a badly-needed Quadrant 1 win. 

“We’re getting great shots, we’re taking great shots, we’ve got really good offensive players,” Young said. “I am not discouraging anything. Maybe another ball reversal. I thought we had a couple of quick ones, but I thought all-in-all, we were taking shots from people we want taking shots, we just couldn’t get’em down.

“Some were pretty well guarded, some were wide open and we just missed them. We just missed them.”

Keve Aluma led Tech with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Justyn Mutts added ten and five. Aluma was the only Tech player to make more than one 3-pointer, and Hunter Cattoor (five points) and Nahiem Alleyne (nine) both finished 1-of-6 from distance.

All eight players who touched the floor scored for the Hokies, and as Alleyne put it post-game, UNC didn’t really stifle them on that end of the floor. It came down to them making open shots – something this team usually is good at – and they didn’t.

While Tech was poor from behind the arc, North Carolina was just a few shots better: 36%, (8-of-22), marginally below its season average of 38%. The difference, though, was in the first half. VT: 2-of-12. UNC: 7-of-15.

Keve Aluma led the Hokies with 16 points. (Ivan Morozov)

That helped the Tar Heels retake the lead with 5:06 remaining before halftime, and they never trailed again. The Hokies slowed them down in the final 20 minutes – Alleyne said that’s the kind of defensive effort they need to start off games – but it wasn’t enough.

In regards to the NCAA Tournament, the loss leaves Virginia Tech on the outside looking in. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had Tech nine spots away from being in the Big Dance, but a loss is a momentum killer.

It’s difficult to win one game in the ACC, let alone six in a row like the Hokies did. Their progression from 0-4 to 2-7 to 8-7 (and now 8-8) has been remarkable. During that stretch, they looked like the team many had expected at the beginning of the year.

But a seventh victory in a row would’ve been sweet, especially in front of a sold out Cassell Coliseum. It would’ve given Tech an important boost ahead of the final stretch of games, but now NCAA Tournament chances appear to be slim-to-none.

Miami on Saturday, Feb. 26 is still a Quadrant 1 opportunity, and the Hokies will see the likes of Louisville and Clemson for the first time this season over the next few weeks. But all Young and his team can do is win games and hope they have a little bit of luck on their side, starting on Wednesday at Georgia Tech.

“You know, sometimes in this thing, sometimes in athletics, you walk out of the building scratching your head, and this was one of those evenings for me.”

Box Score: Link 

21 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. UNC intimidates us. We just sort of play ball against them without a lot of confidence. Good effort, bad confidence. I do wish coach would put in big John Ojiako against Bacot to bang around in there for a while here and there. My best guess is coach thinks it will take away offense. But I actually think frustrating Bacot and freeing up Aluma and Mutts would be very helpful…and rebounding of course…big John could have helped with garbage duty of which we had NONE last night. Oh well…have to shake this off, get back to confident playing. We need to win 3 of the last 4 to get any NCAA bid consideration.

  2. We lost because of: Awful 3-point shooting and bad match-ups at 1-2-3 positions. Per the stats: VT’s 1-2-3 had 16 points Vs 36 for Heels. VT’s 4-5 had 26, UNC 26 and VT’s bench out scored UNC’s by 12. So live by the 3, die by the 3. GO HOKIES!!!

  3. I thought before the season started we were lead to believe that we had a bunch of “shooters” on this team. Well, we certainly don’t have elite 3 point shooters. I mean to be elite you have to be consistent. Sure they’ll have a game or two where in the zone but overall they are at best barely average. And I don’t understand why you as a shooter would continue to shoot beyond the arc if you know you’re not having a good night. Move in and take a 2 point shot, I’d rather have 2 points than a bunch of missed 3 point attempts. It’s like the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Just so frustrating!!

    1. Second ranked in Division 1 on three point shooting sounds pretty elite to me. Did you miss that?

    2. Relax @Waxhaw – you are really off base here. We had a bad day. Its part of the COLLEGE game.

    3. Statistically on the season they are good 3 point shooters though. They had an off night again which really hurts. We don’t have those super elite NBA guys who have ice in their veins and make buckets when it really matters. No body got hot and they just couldn’t make it happen tonight. 3>2 and we have to spread them out. Can’t keep cluttering the middle of the floor around Aluma and Mutts.

  4. Bottom line we blew it just like we did against NCSU, UVA, BC, and UVA. Common thread was poor shooting from our guards and last four minutes of each of these games. Win 3 of the 5 and we would be 19-8. Had our chances though

  5. Game Summary: Live by the jump shot die by the jump shot. The old saying – exactly what this team is. It’s great when you make them and not great when you don’t. You don’t know what you will get from game to game if your offense is so dependent on shooting 3s. I never have considered 3 point shots as “great shots” because you can work for a higher percentage shot than a long distance shot. They might be “good shots” when they are open and a good shooter is shooting them, but over the long haul a team needs balance, not taking 26 3s.

    Our other shots we were 19-38. Much better percentage than average 3 point percentage. I know it’s debatable, but just don’t know how any coach can call 3 point shots “great shots”.

    1. Yes you can get higher % shots but you have to hit a higher % to make it worthwhile. Need to shoot 50% from 2 to equal 33% from 3. We shoot well enough from 3 to justify taking them. We just didn’t shoot well today and I don’t know why. And if you just keep pounding it inside defense will adjust and force you to kick it outside anyway.

      1. I was commenting on classifying shots as “great shots”. The math you shared doesn’t address that. Lay ups and dunks are “great” shots. I think most would agree that lay ups and dunks are ‘better’ shots than 3 point attempts. So I don’t know how a 3 point attempt can be called a great shot no matter how open the shooter is. Also, there’s more than just mathematical point equivalency to consider between taking 3s vs working to get inside. When you are missing 3s at a high rate you are creating more defensive rebound opportunities for your opponent, thus more scoring opportunities, especially for teams that want to get out and run with defensive rebounds instead of taking the ball out after made shots. For teams that want a fast pace you are just helping their game plan and their defensive efficiency numbers by taking and missing a lot of 3s.

  6. Game Summary:

    VT UNC
    57 65 Final Score
    15 24 From Three Point Shots
    38 24 From Two Point Shots
    04 17 From Free Throws

    Biggest VT Lead: 6 (22-16)
    Biggest UNC Lead: 14 (47-33)
    Last Tie: None
    Last Lead Change: UNC 25, VT 24
    It Was Over: UNC 59, VT 50

    Well, it was a bad time to have the streak stopped. Tech shot horribly from downtown, while the Heels did much better at that, which made the difference. The Hokies fell to 16-11 and 8-8 in the ACC, with their tournament resume taking a definite hit, and helping fellow ‘Bubble’ team UNC’s chances. Tech probably needs to take at least three of the remaining four games, heading into the ACCT, to position themselves for a shot at making the Big Dance for the second year in a row, and maybe technically, a fifth consecutive bid.

    1. Need to win all 4 of the remaining games to have a chance for The Dance, but all are very winnable. We need to put this one behind us and win the next one.

  7. Tough loss. I missed the first 15 minutes thanks to espn.

    They had a game between two hbcu’s sponsored by the NBA. It got off schedule and even though it was running on two channels espn left Heel and Hokie fans hanging for 15 game minutes. And this was a prime matchup in the ACC…hottest team playing one of our two premier programs.

    You think they would have done that to Kentucky and Florida or any other SEC opponent? Nope…the ACC is an afterthought in basketball…captured product for espn.

    1. The ACC is an after thought in just not basketball. So sad that we didn’t go to the SEC instead of Mizzou. But, hey, we’re getting to play against highly regarded academic institutions in our geographic footprint for 40 per cent of what we would be making in the SEC. What a joke for all VT fans.

      1. Preach on brother. IF we had a chance or IF we get another chance to join the SEC maybe someone at Tech will be smart enough to follow the money and help VT fans.

    2. Im happy to be in the ACC. SEC is the pinnacle of corruption and in 5-10yrs we would be targeted by the NCAA for violations as the poster child for them to say “see – we go after the SEC”…Ill stay right here in the ACC thanks.

      1. SEC is the pinnacle of corruption and in 5-10yrs we would be targeted by the NCAA for violations as the poster child for them to say “see – we go after the SEC”…Ill stay right here in the ACC thanks.>>>>

        U2 – you’re spot on. Whether it’s recruiting, NIL’s, transfer portal recruiting or COL’s, etc. – the SEC has it all – and gets away with it. Look how the SEC brethren turned on A&M when they maxed all of these out and brought in the #1 recruiting class.

        And Maryland left for mo’ $$$$’s and they’re thriving financially in the Big10 – but those new traditional match ups with Minnesota and Wisconsin don’t exactly match up with their games vs UVa, UNC, Duke, etc.

      2. Heard this from Tech fans before. Don’t buy the argument. Time to think big and go big. The ACC isn’t what I expected and is disappointing. I won’t even comment on the ACC Network. Beyond pitiful!!!

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