In a game that many believed could go either way, Virginia Tech jumped out to a big lead and never let up, drilling in-state rival UVA 84-57 in Blacksburg on Saturday. The Hokies snapped a two game losing streak and move to 17-7 overall, with a 7-3 mark in ACC play. UVA drops to 16-7 overall and 8-3 in conference play.
Virginia Tech winning the game was not surprising. How easily they won it was surprising. The Hokies shot a blistering 57.7% from the field. No team in the last seven games shot more than 45.3% against UVA. Even more remarkable was the fact that the Hokies won the game without the services of leading scorer Zabian Dowdell for most of the afternoon. Dowdell was saddled with foul trouble early in the game and played just 15 minutes, scoring five points.
Several other players picked up the slack for the Hokies. Junior small forward Deron Washington scored 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. It was his second double-double of the season. Sophomore A.D. Vassallo started in place of Lewis Witcher and dropped in 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He was 7-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range.
After struggling last week with the flu, Jamon Gordon was back to his old self. The senior guard filled up the stat sheet, finishing with 15 points, six assists, five steals and two blocks. He was also 6-of-6 from the free throw line. As a team the Hokies were 17-of-19 from the charity stripe, good for 89.5%.
Coleman Collins finished with six points and four rebounds, which doesn’t sound impressive until you dig deeper into the stats. Collins finished with six blocked shots, and his counterpart for UVA, Jason Cain, had just two points and one rebound. As a team Tech blocked 11 shots, and UVA blocked just one.
Last season it was the Hokies who struggled shooting ball in their three games against UVA. This year it was the Hoos who couldn’t put the ball in the basket. UVA shot just 32.8% from the field and 22.2% from three-point range. J.R. Reynolds had 21 points for UVA, but he was 0-of-5 from the outside. Sean Singletary finished with 13 points and committed five turnovers.
UVA jumped out to a 2-0 lead on an early jumper by Reynolds, but that was the only time they led. Jamon Gordon quickly tied the game with a turnaround jumper over Singletary, and then gave the Hokies a 5-2 lead on a three-pointer. The baskets by Gordon started a 21-4 Virginia Tech run.
After a tip-in by Deron Washington at the 13:16 mark of the first half, the Hokies led 21-6. UVA later cut the lead to 25-13 on a jumper by Singletary wth 9:59 remaining in the half, but Tech countered by going on another run. This time it was an 11-0 run, and it ended with a jumper by A.D. Vassallo at the 7:23 mark to give the Hokies a 36-13 lead.
Virginia Tech went on a scoring drought after Vassallo’s jumper, scoring just two points the rest of the half. They kept playing hard defensively, and UVA was only able to make it a 38-22 game at halftime. The Hokies were firmly in control heading into the final 20 minutes.
Virginia scored the first five points of the second half, cutting the lead to 38-27. That was the only point in the second half that the Hokies felt threatened. After the short UVA run, Tech grabbed the Hoos by the throat and never let go. Jamon Gordon hit a layup with 16:01 remaining in the game to make the score 44-29, and that shot began a 15-2 run that eventually put Tech up 57-31 with 12:10 left in the game.
Virginia never recovered, and never managed to get within 21 points for the remainder of the game. The Hokies led by as many as 29 points and went on to win the game 84-57.
Tech’s 17 wins is the most they have had in one season since they won 23 games in 1995-96. Their 27 point victory is their biggest win in an ACC game. It was their highest margin of victory over UVA since a 92-59 win in Charlottesville in January 20, 1962.
The Hokies return to action on Tuesday night when they travel to Chapel Hill for their rematch with the North Carolina Tar Heels. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 pm, and the game will be a Raycom/Lincoln Financial Split telecast. Check your local listings for game availability.