Summary After being down by 11 at one point in the second half, Erick Green scored 10 straight points to get the Hokies back in the game. However, the offense soon became stagnant, when Green forced shots and turned the ball over. A late rally by the Hokies and a missed 3-pointer by Mfon Udofia sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, it was all Hokies. We got out on a 7-0 and Georgia Tech was never able to regain momentum. We spread the ball around and four different players made a basket. A perfect 4-4 from the charity stripe buried the Ramblin’ Wreck’s hopes.
Quick thoughts: I’d like to congratulate Coach James Johnson on his first career ACC victory. This was a big, big, big win for Virginia Tech, and should provide a much needed confidence boost. The players were finally rewarded for their hard work in practice and showed a tremendous amount of resiliency.
The Hokies out rebounded GT 43-32, one of the better margins this year. C.J. and Cadarian were both very physical and Jarell added his usual amount of rebounds. The guards did a great job securing the long rebounds too.
Virginia Tech looked more aggressive on offense than in past games but couldn’t get shots to fall. We had plenty of open looks but too many shots went in and out. We’re so close to getting our offense back, as seen in overtime. Erick had a supporting cast with both Robert and Jarell stepping up, and it wasn’t a coincidence we looked more fluid and went 5-6. Maybe that overtime was exactly what we needed.
Our defense looked much improved today thanks to a few changes. When a pick was set, our big man didn’t come up to either hedge or trap. It seemed to work pretty well and we also mixed up the defense by switching into a 2-3 zone for the end of the game. This caught GT off guard and caused them to have even more trouble. Overall, I’m not sure if our defense was THAT good, or if we caught a break and a team finally shot poorly against us.
Point Guards: Erick Green started the game pretty slow. He missed free throws and was 3/7 from the field at the half. He took over the game late, scoring 16 points and adding two clutch free throws to send it into overtime. I’m starting to believe it is impossible to stop Erick. They doubled teamed him and forced the ball out of his hand, but he still found a way to score. Between his off-ball movement, steals, and transition baskets, he’s the perfect storm for opposing teams.
Marquis Rankin has made no improvement in his second year at Tech. Today, he was a liability on offense and turned the ball over multiple times. He has been unable to manage a game, and usually has finished with more turnovers than assists. For a “true point guard,” that’s unacceptable. And for his great on-ball defense, he fouls more than Jeff Allen as a freshman.
Shooting Guards: Robert Brown had a pretty strange game. He finished with 10 points but shot 2-11 with his two makes coming in overtime. While many people complained, I loved his aggressiveness to take shots and drive, something I wish more of our players would do. While he did miss, it opened up opportunities for others. His aggressiveness was rewarded in overtime, when he made a layup and pull-up jumper.
Will Johnston had to force a deep three as the shot clock expired and missed his other three pointer too.
Forwards: After the game against BC, I thought Jarell Eddie would come out firing. I was wrong, and he again failed to find his shot. He was so close to getting it going, but each of his shots hit the back of the rim. His biggest points came in overtime when he sank a three and followed it up with two free throws to seal the game.
C.J. Barksdale had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. James Johnson benched him on his lack of effort, and he has responded perfectly. I think that was exactly what he needed to understand what it takes to play in the ACC. He fought and fought for rebounds and showed how deadly he can be offensively.
Christian Beyer’s minutes were limited due to C.J. performance, so he never really got involved. He was blocked badly but that was because of his limited size.
Centers: Joey van Zegeren got the start over Raines, but wasn’t physical enough at points to get much playing time. Another offseason to build more muscle and a slight change in mindset should do him some good. We finally ran a pick and roll with him and Robert (the teams most nifty and underrated passer), and Robert hit him perfectly in transition for a flying dunk.
Cadarian was very physical and had a few offensive rebounds late in the game. He was more patient offensively and if he didn’t have a good luck at the hoop, he passed it away.
Stat of the Game: Georgia Tech did not make a basket for 9:52, from the end of regulation to part of overtime.
Mike’s Player of the Game: Erick Green gets the award again. At one point he scored 10 straight points for the Hokies.
Bright things could be on the horizon for Tech as they might get Marshall Wood back for next game and face two beatable teams at home in Wake Forest and UVa. If they can get back to their old ways offensively, combined with being a little better defensively, a run could happen.
The Hokies were rewarded with a win and get a week off to rest and prepare for Wake Forest. The game is at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network and ESPN3.