Late turnovers doom Hokies in the Carrier Dome

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Virginia Tech blew a 13-point second half lead by turning the ball over six times in the last 3:54, and Syracuse’s  Michael Gbinije hit a game winning floater with 0.1 seconds left on the clock to give the Orange a 72-70 win over the Hokies.  Tech dropped to 9-13 overall and 1-8 in ACC play, while Syracuse improved to 15-7 and 6-3.

The Hokies had eight turnovers in the last six minutes, and six in the last 3:54.  That was enough for Syracuse to overcome a 63-50 deficit.  The Orange, despite only playing seven players, put on a fullcourt press in the final minutes of the game that Tech had no answer for, showing (as we’ve been hinting at in TSL Pass articles) that the Hokies lack ideal ball handlers in the backcourt.  Maryland transfer point guard Seth Allen should help with that next year, but for the rest of the season, Tech will simply be outmanned.

Besides the lack of ball handlers, the Hokies had to use 6-3 Malik Mueller to guard 6-9, 250 center Rakeem Christmas for much of the game.  Christmas finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks and 4 steals.  Mueller had nine points and four assists, but also had four turnovers.

Freshman Justin Bibbs paced Tech with 19 points and six rebounds, while fellow freshman Jalen Hudson had a career-high 18 points and seven rebounds.  Adam Smith added 13 points while playing all 40 minutes, while Shane Henry had nine points and eight rebounds. Both Henry and freshman center Satchel Pierce fouled out, as the Hokies were whistled for 25 fouls to just 13 for Syracuse.

Besides the turnovers, the Hokies also made some bad decisions down the stretch.  Adam Smith took a three-pointer with approximately 31 seconds on the shot clock and a little over one minute remaining, and Shane Henry committed his fifth foul while following his own free throw miss approximately 90 feet from the Syracuse basket.  Despite trailing 34-30 at halftime, the Hokies completely outplayed the Orange for most of the second half, until they started turning the ball over and making bad decisions on the offensive end late in the game.

Coming into the game, Syrcause was #73 nationally in rebounding efficiency, while the Hokies were #332.  Despite that, Tech tied the Orange 40-40 on the boards.  However, VT’s lack of size on the inside made for a completely one-sided affair at the free throw line.  Syracuse was 16-of-29 (55.2%), while the Hokies were 7-of-8 (87.5%).  The Hokies had four more turnovers than Syracuse (16-12), and the turnovers and free throw disparity were ultimately the difference in the game.

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10 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. As I thought we had the game won with only a good pass inbounds needed, I think Ol Buzz outcoached Mr. Haughty Boeheim on his own floor. I still think he outcoached him with the pieces he had to work with and the heroic effort of multiple players on our squad should have earned the win. They deserved it. The Cuse dodged a bullet. Wonder why they never fouled our guys at all late in the game? They called every touch foul on our guys and cut out three players and still should have lost. Great Game Hokies in a hostile environment.

  2. Scary 1 and Will, I think Beyer not playing a single minute in last nights game, cost us the game!! Had he used him more we could have spread Pierce’s and Henry’s fouls around and possiblye had 1 or both of them at the end of the game to guard Xmas!! IMO that was a terrible coaching decision and it cost us the game!! Beyer would also have been a great distributer of the ball at the foul line as well!! How about playing a combination of Beyer and Henry, or Beyer and Pierce, or Henry and Pierce together to better rebound the ball?

  3. NC Hoke, I concur. Remember when coach Greenberg came in. He preached that the team had to learn how to “compete.” When they figured out how to do that, we beat Duke and UNC in the same week! I was there for both and it was great. I don’t know what Buzz is “preaching” to his players, but I sense, despite the losses, it is working. Those kids play tough. I believe VT basketball is destined for great things. GO HOKIES!

  4. Can’t wait until BUZZ gets all of his pieces in place for next year. Until then, I praise the current team for their energetic zeal, and overall effort with such a short team, and also the job that BUZZ and his staff are doing to bring back the good name of VT basketball. We know there are no moral victories, however, our conference teams are learning that VT is no pushover. Hopefully we’ll get some wins down the stretch with this energetic and spirited team. GO HOKIES !!!!

  5. Don’t need ball handlers as much as game smarts to break the press. Really just need composure, movement and passing. Some of these guys just aren’t comfortable with the ball in their hands.

  6. “Losing blows, sure. But it’s nice to be competitive again.” – Hokie Matt

    Well said! It sucks that they made the mistakes they did, but I’m okay with it. After playing really their first season ever together, to almost beat Syracuse- AT Syracuse- is a kin to going into the Horseshoe and beating a major football team like OSU.

    It sucks that all of the losses are by 1-2 shots, but it was just a month ago that many fans were saying that VT would now be blown out every game after

    1. JVZ was suspended. I actually think the team has started to gel more since then. By next year, all of the 1-shot losses will all be wins- that means a 13-9 record (at least), instead of the other way around!

    2. That competitiveness was what I had hoped most to see this season. The ball movement has been a huge plus. When we get some size and a few more players this coach is going to start winning games in a way we haven’t seen around Blacksburg for a long time. After waiting for so many years to see a legitimate coach hired to lead this program I’m now pinching myself to make sure its true.

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