Virginia Tech lost 71-77 to Saint Louis on Thursday night, and as a result the Hokies will play Washington on Friday at 5 p.m. in the 2K Classic consolation game.
I'll say it how it is. The Hokies performed awful against Saint Louis. They appeared slow. They shot the ball terribly. Free throw attempts were wasted (23-36, 63.9%). Virginia Tech didn't deserve to win the game. End of story.
Buzz Williams echoed similar sentiments post-game. He was highly critical of his team's toughness and character.
"They were tougher than us from start to finish on both ends of the floor — more physical, played more like we want to play," Hokies coach Buzz Williams said.
"I didn't think that we were ever in the fight. I don't think that we were ever in the mix. I thought they overwhelmed us not only with their energy but with their physicality.
"Our character was revealed in how we played. ... I was shocked that [was] who we were tonight. That caught me off guard. Normally we like the fight. Normally we are the first to the floor.
"I didn't see any of that. And that's not from our new guys, that's from all our old guys. I played our old guys a lot of minutes because I kept thinking it would turn, and it never did. Very ... disappointed in our competitiveness."
Although, there were two bright spots for the Hokies. Ahmed Hill scored 26 points courtesy of 10 for 16 shooting. Justin Bibbs also returned to the lineup after sitting out the opening two games of the season. And, yeah, that's about it.
Here's the one stat that defines the game for Virginia Tech: K.J. Blackshear Jr., Justin Bibbs, and Ahmed Hill were 19 for 30 (63.3%) from the field. The ENTIRE rest of the team shot 2 for 22 (9.09%). That includes a 1 for 7 performance from hyped-up freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 0 for 7 for Justin Robinson, and 1 for 7 for Chris Clarke.
Hill succinctly summarized everyone's frustration.
Virginia Tech will lose a lot of games if that happens consistently. The Hokies don't have a great defense to fall back on. Saint Louis proved that by out-rebounding (43-33), out-shooting (47.4%-40.4%), and out-assisting (13-12) Virginia Tech.
This game was the exact opposite from what Buzz and Co. wanted to see. This was a lackluster performance against a team that is ranked in the No. 247 in RPI and No. 141 in KenPom.
This isn't a loss that knocks the Hokies completely out of the tournament, but it's a game that the selection committee will certainly consider in bubble or seeding scenarios.
A follow-up loss to Washington would be devastating.
Washington and Providence played a close game. Ultimately the Huskies lost 70-77. I found that a bit surprising. Providence is a team similar to Virginia Tech in terms of rankings, ratings, etc..., while on the other hand, Washington is ranked No. 210 in the RPI.
Honestly, Virginia Tech shouldn't lose. I said that about the Saint Louis matchup though, and look how that ended up. Washington isn't a good team (I hope the RPI gave that away). Last season, at least they had Markelle Fultz to make them an exciting team to watch. This year they have... um... squints eyes Jaylen Nowell? He's a true freshman that's averaging 21.5 points per game. He scored 14 points and snagged seven steals on Thursday night. I'm looking forward to seeing how Buzz plays defense against a very capable scorer.
Many previews that I have read about Washington portray the Huskies as a team with a similar playstyle as the Hokies. On their roster, there are only two or three "traditional" post players. Because of that, the Huskies like to spread it out with guards and move the ball around. Watching them play against Providence only confirmed what I had read. They played a lot of zone against Providence as well. Don't be surprised to see that.
If Washington hasn't fixed their defense from last season, the Hokies should light them up. The Huskies played really, really bad defense last year. Like, really bad. 81.1 points per game, No. 332 in the country, bad.
If the Hokies manage to bungle this game, expect an even more grumpy column on Tuesday.