Without Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and with Justin Robinson taking only three shots, Virginia Tech won and covered the 39-point spread. The Hokies demolished Maryland Eastern Shore, 85-40.
Buzzketball now enters the belly of the beast. ACC play. Virginia Tech (11-1) begins their conference slate in Cassell Coliseum against Notre Dame on New Year's Day.
Alexander-Walker sat out the game against the Hawks with a sprained ankle. A Tech spokesperson said before the game the Hokies hope to have the sophomore guard back for Notre Dame. Buzz Williams added his diagnosis in a way only he could.
"Just an ankle sprain," said Williams. "I think any time your ankle, there's a word for it, when it goes out that means the swelling is above the ankle. And I'll always think that that's worse then when your ankle goes in and the swelling is below the ankle bone. So, he's the most diligent worker I've ever been around. He's doing all the work with Eddie [Benion], relative to treatment. It's probably still a little too early to say."
The player of the game was Wabissa Bede. The sophomore guard picked up the majority of Alexander-Walker's minutes (34 total). Bede tallied a 14 point, 7 rebound, and 6 assist stat line.
"We didn't know that Nickeil wasn't going to play until shootaround," said Bede. "We just didn't know. We already know that when one guy is down, somebody has to step up. Everybody as a team stepped up. And we did a great job."
Ahmed Hill, sporting a new, in his own words, "ASAP Rocky, Travis Scott" hairstyle, also put on a show. He went for 20 points, including a nice 6 of 9 from deep. Hill snagged 4 rebounds and dished out 4 assists.
"My teammates just finding me," said Hill. "I was open. Just didn't think, just shot the ball. Normal routine and thank god they went in today."
As it stands, the Hokies are ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll. Five years ago, Virginia Tech finished last in the ACC with a 2-16 record.
"Sometimes maybe we talk about success and use it in the wrong context," said Williams. "I think of success as an individual. I think that what's happened here is not exclusively success. I think it's more significance. I think when I think of the word significance and give it context, it means that it's for others. And all of the good stuff and all of the bad stuff, there's so many lives that have been impacted through that. I'm getting to the point in my life now that the result of a game, good or bad, doesn't have near the impact that it once did. And at times, I'm [convinced] that maybe I don't care about coaching anymore. And what's morphed is I care so much more about people. And maybe that the experience here regardless of the history of the program potentially changes the trajectory of their life. Which maybe has a generational impact to their children. And that's not because of me, that's because of all of the people."
Pundits and analysts consider the ACC one of the strongest conferences in college basketball. Bracket Matrix currently projects 8 ACC teams in the March Madness field.
"I think any time you play poker in the back room or you throw dice in the back room, when all the other people are throwing it on the first floor, that's what the ACC is," explained Williams. "You're in the private room. Like Coach [Roy] WIlliams doesn't throw dice, I know everybody knows Coach throws dice. Coach doesn't throw dice where we throw dice. They already have the chips in the room. They already have the stick man waiting on Coach when he shows up. That's what the ACC play is."
First Half: Virginia Tech 50–Maryland Eastern Shore 22
19:28, 3-0 VT Blackshear Jr. drained a three to start off the game. Williams immediately called timeout. Lovely.
15:44, 11-4 VT Buzzketball started strong tonight, unlike against North Carolina A&T.
11:52, 18-9 VT Virginia Tech's defense has impressed so far. Yes, this is the 349th worst team in the country according to KenPom. But the Hokies have been smothering the Hawks. Four possessions have been near shot clock violations.
7:30, 33-14 VT Maryland Eastern Shore decided to not guard Ty Outlaw. Not sure why. Buzzketball might cover the 39-point spread, courtesy of shooting 80% from the field so far.
2:07, 47-20 VT Buzzketball is finding points wherever they want to find them. This is an absolute rout.
Second Half: Virginia Tech 85–Maryland Eastern Shore 40
14:41, 58-27 VT Big time reverse jam by Ahmed Hill. That was pretty. Only real question now is whether the Hokies will cover or not.
11:50, 63-31 VT This is a balanced attack from the Hokies. 18 assists on 21 made baskets. No player over 14 points. More impressive is the fact that Horne, Bede, and Wilkins are all perfect from the field.
4:30, 81-38 VT Robinson missed the front end of the one-and-one. With Virginia Tech up by 43, it's interesting to not see walk-on Brendon Palmer get some playing time.
00.0, 85-40 VT The stat everybody is here for. Hokies win, cover spread.