Virginia Tech flattened #7 Miami on Saturday afternoon, blowing out the favored Hurricanes 77-62 in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies played their best game of the season and improved to 18-13 overall and 10-8 in conference play. They have now won five straight games, which is the longest current winning streak in the ACC. Miami dropped to 24-6 overall, and 13-5 in league play.
Thanks to their win over Miami, as well as losses by Syracuse and Pitt, the Hokies will be the #6 seed in this week’s ACC Tournament. They will face the winner of the Florida State-Boston College game on Wednesday night at approximately 9:30 PM.
Most of Virginia Tech’s ACC games have gone down to the wire, and we’ve had to sit through a lot of dramatic finishes. That wasn’t the case on Saturday. The Hokies took their first lead 7-5 at the 16:51 mark on a big dunk by Jalen Hudson, and the rest of the game was spent gradually extending that lead.
By the 9:08 mark of the first half, Tech had taken a 19-10 lead after an old-fashioned three-point play by Devin Wilson. At the 5:22 mark, an “and one” by Seth Allen pushed the lead to 26-14, and a three-pointer by Justin Bibbs with 1:19 remaining in the first half gave the Hokies a 14-point lead. Heading into halftime, Tech led 32-21.
Miami is a talented, veteran team, and they were expected to make a run in the second half. They made a couple of small runs, at one point cutting the lead to 39-33 on a Sheldon McClellan three-pointer with 14:29 remaining. However, every time the Hurricanes cut into the lead, the Hokies fought right back.
McClellan’s three-pointer was answered by a 10-2 run by the Hokies, and just like that they led 49-35 with 11:50 remaining. The Canes later cut the lead to eight points, but Tech responded again with a 13-2 run to push their lead out to 64-45 with 7:24 left in the game. At that point, Miami was done, and they knew it. Seth Allen and Justin Robinson iced the game with six free throws down the stretch, and Tech won 77-62.
Justin Bibbs led the Hokies with 19 points. The sophomore was 5-of-6 from three-point range. Zach LeDay added 16 points, three rebounds and three blocks. Freshman point guard Justin Robinson continued his streak of outstanding play by scoring 15 points, dishing out eight assists, and grabbing five rebounds in 32 minutes. Seth Allen chipped in with 14 points.
With the win, the Hokies have now beaten two top 10 teams for the first time since the 2006-07 season. That year Tech swept UNC, and also knocked off Duke. They also became just the third ACC team in history to improve by eight conference wins from one year to the next.
The Hokies plan to take their underdog mentality to Washington, DC for this week’s ACC Tournament.
“We were picked 14th…what do you think?” Buzz Williams said after the game. “If you’re picked 14th and finished sixth, what other mentality should we take?
The Hokies finish the regular season 18-13 overall and 10-8 in ACC action. Tech will be the sixth-seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.
The 10 conference wins are the most by Tech since the 2009-10 season (10-6). The 18 overall wins are the most for Tech since finishing 22-12 in the 2010-11 season.
Tech has won its last five ACC games. That is the school’s longest streak since winning five straight ACC games in the 2009-10 season.
With the win over No. 7 Miami, the Hokies have won two games against top 10 teams this season, the first time that has happened since Tech won three top 10 (actually top 5) games in the 2006-07 season.
Justin Robinson dished out a career-high eight assists. That is the most by a Hokie freshman in an ACC game since Devin Wilson had nine assists twice as a freshman.
Justin Bibbs scored 19 points. That marks the 20th time this season he has scored in double figures. He was 5-6 from three-point range, a new personal high for most made three-pointers in an ACC game.
Zach LeDay scored 16 points. That marks his team-leading 25th game this season in double figures. Justin Robinson scored 15 points. That marks his ninth game this season in double figures. He has scored in double figures in six of the last seven games. Seth Allen scored 14 points. That tied LeDay for the team lead with 25 games in double figures this season.
The Hokies celebrated Senior Day on Saturday. The program honored Shane Henry and student manager Paul Large in pre-game ceremonies.
Jim Larranaga Quotes
“I just think Virginia Tech came out very ready to play, played a terrific game from start to finish. They defended us really well in the first half and, I think, we were a little too focused on what was at stake. We wanted it so badly, to win and to solidify that we would get at least a share of the conference regular season championship. I told the team afterwards, it’s not about focusing on the result, it’s focusing on the process. The process is playing good defense, rebounding, executing the offensive game plan. We just didn’t do that.”
“We were just very anxious. We weren’t cool, calm and collected like we were Wednesday night against Notre Dame. Sometimes you want something so badly you tighten up and you miss shots you would normally make. But the message before the game was that we weren’t going to settle for threes against the zone. The first possession we took three threes. Obviously, we weren’t prepared to just take our time and work the ball inside.”
“I just think they played really hard and really well. They played really well against us in the first half at our place and we just played really, really well in the second half.”
“I would say both [frustrates and motivates us]. It’s certainly frustrating to lose a game like this the way that we lost it. It would be one thing if we played really well and Virginia Tech made a big play at the end, but they led by double figures the whole second half. We were not really in the game like we’ve been when we’ve won. I think we’ve finished the conference 13-5 so we’ve had a great regular season, they have to remember that. But to play well, you have to be focused on the task at hand. We weren’t. We were thinking way too far down the road.”
Buzz Williams Quotes
“They’re the sixth-ranked team in the country for a reason. They won the league for a reason. Extremely experienced. I think Coach K said they’re the best team in the league as far as their talent. I don’t have the equity to judge anybody else’s team, but they’re distinctly more talented than we are. I think that when you’re playing any team, particularly a team as good as they are, they’re going to go on a run. I think, again, it’s really [not so much] if a team is going to go on a run as much as how are you going to respond to the run. I thought our response was really good.”
“[Justin Robinson is] Playing at a very high level. We want to play with as many point guards on the floor as we can. If foul trouble allows us, I think how we’ve tried to distribute the minutes is let Devin, Seth Allen, 5 (Justin Robinson) play together. Devin, you can initiate offense this time when we’re running this, Seth you initiate it when we’re running this, 5 you initiate it when we’re running that. I think everybody continues to grow, continues to mature. I think they’re much more aware and comfortable with what we’re trying to accomplish on both ends of the floor. I think our staff has continued to grow and mature relative to how much to give ‘em, their ability to comprehend it, their ability to execute it. 5 is fun to coach, 5 is really fun to watch if you’re a fan. I have to be careful that I don’t become a fan of him because he’s got little man syndrome, like a lot of guys his size, but I don’t know that you can quantify the competitiveness coupled with the IQ that he plays with. He makes the right decision at a very high rate and he has a skill set to back that up. It’s his IQ that is coming to life more and more.”
“We were picked 14th, what do you think? If you’re picked 14th and you finish sixth, what other mentality should we take? Without sounding like a jerk, if you could Google my story or anything I’ve been involved with, I’ll always be able to answer that question the same way.”
“I thought in the first half [of the first meeting at Miami], even though it was a rock fight, we were ahead at halftime and I thought some of the things that we were trying to do defensively were good. We turned the ball over five times in the second half in the first five minutes. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish defensively, teams as talented as they are, if they’re playing in a broken floor they’re going to score. So, I thought we did a better job today of our offense helping our defense. Very rarely did we take a surprise shot. Seth probably gets one per half, which restricts the other guys from being able to take a bad shot. I think that we didn’t play in a broken floor as often and I think, when they went on that run, it was because they were scoring in a broken floor.”
“The first thing I would say is I’ve learned a lot from the kids. The other thing I’ve learned by watching the kids is to be a better parent. If those kids turned out that way, obviously their parents were doing a really good job. I think not only have I become a better coach by learning from them, but I’ve become a better parent by coaching them. So that’s been fulfilling. What has been as good as I’ve ever seen, particularly as a head coach, is the spirit and love that they have for one another and how they play for one another. That’s rarefied air that you find in the millennial generation, that you can get everybody in one room pulling in the same direction. Again, that speaks to the character of the kids, that speaks to the character of the managers, the character of the coaches, that everybody in there, regardless of their title, are pulling, how can we get a little bit better, how can we get a little bit better. That’s really hard, may not happen again in my career. To be able to get the recipe exactly the way that it is. It’s been very fulfilling and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m very humbled and thankful for it all.”
“Their talent speaks for itself on both ends. We had to play zone because we can’t guard the pass. I think when we have a low turnover rate, I think we’re undefeated when we turn it over 10 or less times. Obviously our free throw rate has a lot to do with that. If we turn it over, not only are we preventing a field goal attempt, but as the game transpires we are probably also preventing a free throw attempt. Number one, I would say we had a low turnover rate. It was 16 percent today and our OAR was 1.32 in the second half and 1.15 for the game, so obviously those are really good numbers. It also helps when we shoot 82 percent from the free throw line. Again, I thought our staff did a great job with the scouting report, they should be commended for it, and I also think that our players did an excellent job of executing and playing to the scouting report relative to what we were trying to accomplish offensively and defensively.”