The Hokies failed to capitalize on their final significant non-conference opportunity for a quality win, falling to the Purdue Boilermakers 58-55 in overtime. The loss set Tech back to 4-3 on the season with rival UVA coming to town on Sunday.
Malcolm Delaney just simply didn’t show up, going 2-of-18 from the field in what could be his worst game in his four years at VT. Delaney finished with just 9 points, missed a fadeaway shot at end of regulation, and turned the ball over on Tech’s final possession of overtime, cementing the Purdue victory.
Tech was once again hampered by poor free throw shooting in clutch situations. Leading 50-49 with 21 seconds remaining in regulation, Terrell Bell only made 1-of-2 free throws and Purdue’s JuJuan Johnson took advantage, nailing a hook shot with 8.8 seconds remaining to tie the contest. In overtime, Dorenzo Hudson made just 1-of-2 free throws to give Tech a one-point lead, which was quickly erased when Johnson made a 15-foot shot to give the Boilermakers a 56-55 lead they would not relinquish. The Hokies finished 15-of-21 (71.4%) from the charity stripe.
Hudson also continued his season long struggle, making just 2-of-5 shots and finishing with 5 points. Seth Greenberg even went as far as to putting Erick Green in down the stretch in regulation instead of the slumping Hudson. The fact that Delaney and Hudson combined for just 14 points and the Hokies had a chance to win was astounding.
Not all was terrible for the Hokies on this gloomy night. Junior forward Victor Davila arguably had his best game in a Tech uniform, tallying 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks before fouling out with 1:46 remaining in regulation on a questionable moving screen call. Jeff Allen led the Hokies with 14 points and seemed to stay out of foul trouble despite finishing with four infractions. Green, returning for the first time since the Cal State Northridge game last Thursday, was a welcome surprise off the bench tallying 8 points, including one of Tech’s two three-pointers.
Overall, the Hokies did exactly what I said they needed to: don’t turn the ball over, contest shots, and rebound misses. Tech turned the ball over just 13 times, forced Purdue into a 36% night from the field, and out rebounded the Boilermakers 42-34. However, Tech couldn’t stop JaJuan Johnson who scored Purdue’s first 11 points en route to a 29-point effort.
In the grand scheme of things, these are the games that year after year the Hokies need to win to get themselves into the NCAA tournament. They failed to do so yet again, and now find themselves probably needing 10+ wins in a weak ACC to make the expanded NCAA field. Sure, it’s early December, but this one is probably going to sting come March.