The Hokies continued to prove they are a second half team after outscoring Mississippi Valley State 40-25 in the second to get a 70-49 victory and their eighth win of the season.
Summary: The Hokies looked like a team that was still thinking about their loss only two days prior. They looked tired and not focused on the task at hand which resulted in sloppy play to start. The Hokies gained a 12-2 lead in the first few minutes based on pure talent disparity, but promptly allowed MSVU to go on a 20-8 run and take a 22-20 lead with only 6:31 left in the half. Yes, a team that was 0-5, had lost four starters and a head coach from last year, was leading Virginia Tech. But as they have in almost every game, the Hokies did a great job finishing the half and took a six point lead into half-time.
At halftime, Joey Racer wrote “effort” on the board and Coach Johnson wrote “attitude”. The team listened, and dominated. The defensive intensity increased, rotations got better, turnovers started to occur, the pace became fast, and with 10 minutes left, the game was out of reach. The Hokies managed to create a 33-8 run to span both halves and the start to the second half was identical to the past three games. If the Hokies can learn to start BOTH halves like that, the team will be unstoppable. Virginia Tech kept their lead around 20 points for the rest of the game and had every walk-on in with a minute remaining. Sloppy game, but a win is a win.
Quick thoughts: Hokies looked like they had a hangover from the WVU loss and took MVSU pretty lightly. I don’t know if this had to deal with foul trouble, bad attitude, or simply being tired, but at one point in the first half Coach Johnson had Green, Rankin, Beyer, and JVZ in the game.
I love how we have been ending the first half and starting the second so well. It’s clear we are a second half team.
We may have only scored 70 (who would’ve thought we’d be complaining about that this year?), but we got the win and get to rest until Saturday.
Point Guards: Still battling with flu-like symptoms, Erick Green continued to perform. He scored 23 points on only 13 shots and made all six of his free throws. He finds a way to score every time down the court, and doesn’t need an open look to make it. He got to rest a few more minutes tonight than normal and will get a week’s break to fully recover.
Every time I call out a player, they have to embarrass me the next game. Marquis Rankin played great, and I hope we get that performance, or even half of that, out of him every night. He scored a career-high 10 points on 3-4 shooting and was perfect from beyond the arc. He played effective defense and distributed the ball well in transition; we got everything we could’ve out of him tonight.
Shooting Guards: Robert Brown had his worst game of the year. He had three fouls in the first half and was unable to get into a rhythm. His four points were a season-low and he shot a measly 22%. Marquis took his place and a thrived tonight, so his presence wasn’t missed as much.
Will Johnston took two threes and missed them both, so no notable contribution from him.
Forwards: Jarell Eddie had another bad shooting night and even missed three free throws. His one highlight of the game was a SC Top-10 worthy dunk that got the crowd excited to start the game. He did show how much he means to the Hokies rebounding though, by grabbing 10 boards and almost finishing with a double-double. He was missed against WVU, and it was good to get him back. I hope he can return to his successful shooting and get a little confidence back. I cannot stress enough how much he improves our rebounding and I’d love to see a stat for Tech’s +/- with rebounds while he is on the court vs. on the bench.
C.J. Barksdale had another productive evening offensively and has really shot his mid-range jumper better lately. I know earlier in the year I said I cringed every time he shot it, but he’s starting to actually make me want him to take that shot. The pick and pop with him and Erick could become a deadly weapon in our otherwise lacking half-court offense.
Marshall Wood played another smart game. I specifically recall him going up for a dunk and deciding to move by the defender to avoid the charge and make the layup. That is something you don’t see out of a freshman, and he’s only going to get better.
Christian Beyer got the most minutes of his career tonight. While on the court, he proved to be one of the best on the team at boxing out, and was able to score his first points in college. This was a great performance for the walk-on after racking up 5 rebounds in his short time in the game.
Centers: Similar to Robert, Cadarian Raines had his worst game of the season. He was 0-4 from the field and fouled out of the game. He did, however, contribute four offensive rebounds in only 12 minutes of action.
Joey van Zegeren made up for Dot’s poor play with his most well-rounded game of the season. He had 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. All three of his made baskets were dunks and he showed his athleticism by catching two alley-oops from Green. He finished his night swatting back to back shots late in the second half.
Stat of the Game: The Hokies had nine blocks on the night which tied their season-high. The blocks allowed them to do what they’re best at: Get into transition.
Mike’s Player of the Game: Erick Green again. /YAWNS. Ya’ll, I ‘m getting tired of giving this award to him! All kidding aside, the team goes where Erick goes, and with him playing like an All-American, we’ll go far. He tied Bimbo Coles nine straight 20+ games to start the season and is playing at a different level and it’s a blast to watch.
Like I said early, this was an ugly win but it got the job done. The team should be able to come out next weekend focused and ready to compete. We’ve shot poorly for the last few games, especially from deep, and I would like to see us improve in that area next game.
The Hokies take on Georgia Southern at 2 p.m. Saturday and I hope to see y’all out there!