Io-who, Virginia Tech Dispatches the Hawkeyes

Virginia Tech ran away with a 79-55 victory in the ACC-B1G Challenge and moved to 6-1 on the season.

[Mark Umansky]

I don't think anybody expected Virginia Tech to blow out Iowa on Tuesday night. I certainly didn't. Vegas tagged Tech as just 8.5-point favorites despite the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum. Yet, the Hokies held the Hawkeyes to 17 points in the second half, and remained effective on the offensive end. As a result, Buzzketball turned a close game into a blowout, 79-55.

The porousness of the Hokies' defense was a marked concern prior to the tip. In previous games Tech surrendered easy layups, yielded offensive rebounds in bulk, and overall seemed lackadaisical defending. That all changed against the Hawkeyes.

"The difference in the second half was our defensive rebounding," Buzz Williams said. "Only giving them one shot. I thought we started really really good. I think we played the first 15 minutes [of the second half] without them getting an offensive rebound."

The Hokies' offensive pace didn't suffer all too much from clamping down on defense either. The points were still there, perhaps not at the 102 PPG clip that led the nation, but that was against lesser competition. Against Power Five talent and a defense which ranks top-third in Pomeroy AdjD (No. 118), Virginia Tech shot 44% from the field and 30% from three. A "slow" night, if you can even call it that.

"What's happened with our team, earlier than ever before, is that they're comfortable with who we are," explained Williams. "Five [Justin Robinson] played himself. Chris Clarke was himself. Ahmed, I think, has always been himself. But I think collectively, our team, is starting to realize who we are."

Ahmed Hill expounded on the offensive flow.

"Everybody knows where the shots are coming from," said Hill. "Our pace of the game, you could see they were getting very tired, and we were getting rebounds and pushing the ball. Our pace is what gets us going in transition."

Tech's awareness of its own identity this early in the season is encouraging. The Hokies know they're going to be undersized (Justin Bibbs jokingly responded "You mean always?" when asked postgame about how Tech schemes when they're undersized), but they don't care and have a gameplan that fits their personnel.

Virginia Tech made a statement Tuesday night, and took an important step forward.

My notes from Cassell's press row follow.

First Half, Virginia Tech 38, Iowa 38

17:56 — Hokies force a quick turnover in the halfcourt after showing a frantic half-court press that I haven't seen all season. Nickeil Alexander-Walker stomped his foot in celebration, a rare sign of emotion from the youngster.

16:04 — Justin Bibbs walks into a deep three-pointer, and misses badly. I still haven't seen anything from him that makes me think he's more than a spot-up shooter. His game has improved, I just don't think it's consistent enough.

14:59 — Kerry Blackshear Jr. gets in early foul trouble, exactly what the Hokies don't need. Both of the fouls were iffy, but now we get to see what Virginia Tech is capable of without their lone "true" center on the court.

12:57 — Jordan Bohannon hits a wide open three, seemingly because no defender fought through the screen. That seems to have been a common theme during the previous games this season, and it needs to be fixed if Virginia Tech wants to be competitive in the ACC.

11:48 — Iowa goes to a zone, and Justin Bibbs immediately hits a shot from distance. He's going to be a great zone-buster this season.

9:34 — Chris Clarke hits his first three of the season. If he can reliably add that shot to his arsenal, he's 100% the best player for Virginia Tech.

7:09 — Hokies give up the fourth offensive rebound of the night, leading to yet another easy tip-in. Different night, same story. There's not much the Hokies can do with Blackshear Jr. sitting out, but it's painful to watch.

6:43 — Devin Wilson makes a free throw that literally hit the top of the backboard before dropping in the hoop. It's the second time that's happened tonight. I'm not sure how long the Hokies can keep that type of luck up from the charity stripe.

4:01 — Iowa coach Fran McCaffery gets called for a technical foul. Ahmed Hill dove for the ball, saved it, and P.J. Horne slammed home a dunk. I'm around 94% sure that Hill was out of bounds, which led to McCaffery's frustration. Understandable call, but a big momentum shift for Virginia Tech.

Buzz Williams remarked after the game, "Superman! I hope that's what our program is about, our players represent that. Med has been that way since the day I met him, and that was a huge play."

2:22 — Chris Clarke has been hyper-active on defense. It's reassuring to see as he progress towards full health and mobility.

1:25 — I pointed out in my preview that Bohannon is shooting 50% from deep for Iowa. He's 4 for 4 tonight so far. And they're nowhere close to the arc.

Halftime Thoughts

Virginia Tech shouldn't be anywhere close to tied. Iowa shot 51% from the field, compared to only 40% for the Hokies. The Hawkeyes have 10 more rebounds, including 6 offensive boards.

However, Virginia Tech played 15 minutes without Blackshear Jr. and they didn't get completely muscled out of the game. That's a positive. Also, the Hokies are rotating on defense much better than in prior games. It's allowed them to make up for the size disparity. P.J. Horne has also held his own while playing a bunch of minutes.

"I thought P.J. kept us in the game offensively in the first half and I thought the reason that it was a tie ball game at halftime was because of their [Iowa's] offensive rebounding," said Williams after the game.

Tech benefited from a substantial foul differential in the first frame. The Hokies shot 15 free throws, and Iowa had only 4 chances from the charity stripe. Tech can't depend on that gap in the second half.

The Hokies also took care of the ball extremely well, they coughed it up only four times. Along the same line, Tech turned eight Hawkeye giveaways into eight points.

Bohannon is shooting the lights out. He alone could win this game for the Hawkeyes if the Hokies don't adjust.

Second Half, Virginia Tech 79, Iowa 55

19:41 — Blackshear Jr. immediately grabs an offensive rebound and puts it back in. I cannot understate how important he is to the Hokies' offense.

"I think it'll be a common theme ... K.J. had three out of the first five defensive rebounds." Williams said after the game. "We need our guards to do a really good job from a defensive rebound perspective. Our bigs ... those guys are working so hard that they can't get it. So somebody else has to come and get it."

17:30 — Justin Bibbs has been off tonight from deep. He's 1 for 6 from deep and 1 for 8 all together. He's bound to have some off nights, but it's certainly a concern.

15:38 — Hokies are on a 10-0 run, and Bibbs has seven of those points. Everybody is wrong every once and awhile, okay? Iowa called timeout, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker was the first player off the bench and he waved his arms at the crowd. He's not going to be in maroon and orange for a long time, but damn is he a good one.

15:11 — A team timeout followed by a media timeout is dumb. That is all.

14:23 — It's slightly scary how quickly this Hokies squad turned a tied ball game into a 12-point lead. Iowa isn't a defensive powerhouse, but they're still a good team. For Virginia Tech to open the second half with a performance like this, it has to reassure the coaching staff. I know it reassures me.

13:48 — Justin Robinson just dropped a poor Hawkeye on the floor with one of the nastiest crossovers I've ever seen.

12:04 — When Virginia Tech gets going, they are seriously fun to watch. The Hokies are on a 20-to-1 run, and Iowa hasn't made a field goal since the 19:11 mark. Buzz has Virginia Tech playing the style that they excel at. Hustling to loose balls, playing fast and loose on defense, and getting out and running on offense.

"Fast beats big when fast is really fast," proclaimed Williams with a smile on his face after the game. "But fast can only be fast when fast has the ball."

9:14 Alright, everybody breathe. Devin Wilson did a great job of slowing down and resetting the offense after a rushed three by NAW.

7:58 — A wild 23-point lead appeared! Iowa is shooting 8% from the field in the second half. EIGHT. I don't care who the Hokies are playing, holding a team to that low of a percentage during a half is an accomplishment.

Kerry Blackshear was limping after that last play, but he seems to be fine now. Exhales.

5:20 — Virginia Tech might actually win this game by 30. Perform this consistently and the Hokies will put a lot of people on notice. They combined a suffocating defensive effort with a relatively meek shooting night (to Virginia Tech's standards at least) into domination.

1:06 — Okay so Virginia Tech won't win by 30. But goodness, I did not anticipate Justin Ammerman to check in.


Sounds like a fun one to watch. I wish I'd seen it!.

In my opinion the biggest bright spot last night was PJ Horne, who I thought played much bigger than his listed 6' 5" height.

Is it football season yet?

Oh lawd that crossover

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

Oh lawd that crossover

I had no idea that Cam was a 2 sport athlete?

Year 3 is coming up!

I'm a fan of the timeline style breakdown of games, and throwing in the postgame quotes here and there to reinforce the points made. Keep it up, Skutt

I agree. It gives a great sense of timing plus an enjoyable read.

"We'll bring out the moonshine, start tellin' lies, and callin up the women..." Harry Hogge, Days of Thunder

Thirded. Really enjoyed the recap and it's a different format than you usually see - I like it!

Like the format also. Would it be too much trouble to add the current score at each interval?

#5 for Iowa last night was a BEAST. He dunked on Chris Clarke (kinda) and had a very disrespectful block on NAW. That dude was huge and athletic. He also took a massive L.

Umansky photo gallery us lit, can't embed his favorite pictures tweet, absolute GOLD

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

I left my TV for 5 minutes early in the second half and came back to a 12-point lead. Left again to go make tea and by the time I'm back downstairs it's 19 points.

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Sounds like you need to leave your TV early and often against Duke and UNC!!

I bet at halftime, we had a bunch of people talking about how undersized we were and that we missed FT's.

then, the 2nd half. This is what we do. If we do it well, pressure the perimeter to make getting the ball to the post harder, double team strategically, get our share of rebounds, run, move the ball on offense, get our shooters that well and you get what Iowa did, which was to ditch their big-ball and go as small as they could to try to keep up (they still couldn't, clearly they were winded).

We are a good team. We are small. Our coach wants us to only shoot 3's, layups and FT's. Our coach doesn't want to crash the offensive boards, he wants them to get back on defense. This is who we are, celebrate it. It's fun as hell.

This is who we are, celebrate it. It's fun as hell.


Female announcer couldn't stop saying, "All Iowa, All Iowa, All Iowa" in first half and at halftime. I'm sorry, maybe it seemed like that, but it was tied at the half, so there had to be some Hokies involved (PJ)! The real take at halftime should have been, "wow it seems like Iowa is dominating this game, but the Hokies have it tied. IF the Hokies play slightly better in the 2nd, they'll win. Free throws, Iowa turnovers, and PJ Horne have kept the Hokies in it, despite poor shooting and at times poor offensive rhythm." She needs to be better at her job.

"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

It was very fitting that her name was Deb.

11 bonnets on the ball!

Meaning? Really, I'm clueless.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

(Debbie Downer)

Chem PhD '16

Ahhh. Thanks.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Aside, but I thought she was really good. I didn't catch the play-by-play guys name, but he was also very good.

In her defense, Iowa was making us look really uncomfortable playing slow in the first half. She definitely got annoying at times there, but I think it was a little justified and it certainly wasn't to the degree that those announcers during the UVa game last week were obviously pro-UVa.

Edit, Side Note: I hope we get Tom Creen for one of our games coming up. I was impressed with him in the bits and pieces of GT/NW I saw before our game tipped off

3 billion women on the planet and ESPN managed to find the only other one who is as boring and monotone and makes a game less of an event as Beth Mowins.

The biggest difference in the second half was defensively our guys were where they belonged. Its the first time this season that this really has occurred for such a long stretch of a game. By being where they should, it really made an impact on being able to win the tip drills that were the defensive rebounds more often than normal. Winning those tip drills also led to quite a few transition baskets because the ball was out in front of two or three defenders from the point of possession which gave our offense the chance to create an open lane to the basket. I was surprised with how poor Iowa's bigs were at getting rebounding position, especially with their size advantage. This is not typical of an Iowa team under McCaffery. Its probably why they have the bad losses to ULL and SDSU.

The other major area where we continued our trend in comparison to Iowa was at the Free throw line. Iowa came in only sending opponents to the line 16 times and we got there 28 times yesterday. We had a 16 point advantage in terms of made free throws, 22-6.

I was also really glad to see Horne continue to trend upward. He ended up with more minutes yesterday than Blackshear mainly because of the early fouls on KJ. His offensive production yesterday against much larger bigs was essential in winning the contest.

KJ might have had his best half as a Hokie last night.

He has struggled all year, but he started the second half getting multiple boards and keeping balls alive. He got the Hokies going and he needs to keep playing like that as we enter ACC play.

Anybody got a clip of the ridiculous steal from Bibbs? (I think it was him. I don't remember exactly).

Whoever it was tipped the ball out of the guy's hands and then immediately dove to get it before it went out of bounds. As he was falling out, he flipped it behind his back, and we got it on the fast break, leading to a beautiful dunk.

Even with JRob's crossover, that was my favorite play of the night.

It was Ahmed Hill, but I gotchu, fam. This is what led to the Technical on McCaffery

Hey, Skutt, can you include a box score in these post game write ups? I also liked the timeline style over a straight recap article.

Outside its night time, but inside its LeDay

"Fast beats big when fast is really fast," proclaimed Williams with a smile on his face after the game. "But fast can only be fast when fast has the ball."

we've got a track team doubling as a our hoops squad. i'll take it...


You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7