Buzzketball breaks through on Big Monday

Virginia Tech picked up its first signature win of the season 80-69 over North Carolina in front of a primetime ESPN audience and a raucous Cassell.

[Mark Umansky]

Big Monday, bigger statement. Fueled by a 15-2 run late in the first half, the Hokies knocked off No. 10 North Carolina 80-69. It's just Virginia Tech's fourth win over the Tar Heels since 1966, and the first in the last eight attempts.

The decisive win came on the heels of an uneven home loss to Florida State only two days prior. At 2-4 in ACC play, devoid of a marquee 'W', and with a pair of road trips looming, it was a must-win for Tech. 2-5 was too deep a hole for the Hokies to climb out of.

But win the Hokies did. Although the first 15 minutes of play was controlled by the Tar Heels, Buzzketball dominated the final 25.

"I feel the same way that I felt the last time I was in Virginia," UNC head coach Roy Williams said after the game. "University of Virginia kicked our rear ends, and I felt like that tonight."

Early on, the Tar Heels dictated the pace. UNC opened up a lead as large as seven points behind three-pointers and good defense. However, the Hokies closed the first frame on a 15-2 run. Chris Clarke, Kerry Blackshear Jr, Wabissa Bede, and Justin Robinson all kicked in triples to help swing the momentum and score to a 7-point Tech advantage at half.

"The last possession. I'm glad Five [Justin Robinson] made the shot. Chris had that ball with eight seconds left over there in the slot closest to their bench. I thought he played with great poise because we wanted to take the last shot," said Buzz Williams. "This is all so fragile. All of this is fragile. Life is fragile. I thought, at times, we've been fragile over the last 10 to 12 days. And so to close it down and go into the locker room with a little bit of 'ahh...', I thought it was good. I didn't say that, but I felt that. And I think our kids felt it."

After the break, Carolina was able to cut the margin down to two twice, but never regained the lead.

"We got it to a two-point game," said Roy Williams. "Then they make a three, and we miss a defensive assignment, and they score again. They miss a layup, their guy runs by one of our guys, and lays it up again. I'm a little ticked off."

The Hokie faithful have been clamoring for good shooting, fast tempo, disciplined defense, and low turnover rate all season. And that's exactly what they got down the stretch.

Tech finished the game 12 for 30 (40%) from distance. By comparison, against Virginia the Hokies finished 2 for 12 (16.7%) from deep.

"Being unified on defense, getting those stops, can really feed into our offense," noted Blackshear Jr. "We get those easy layups in transition and then three's start to fall."

The Hokies out-ran the Heels, scoring 11 fast break points. UNC finished the night with just four.

On the defensive end, Tech outrebounded the No. 1 rebounding team in the ACC. The Hokies also swiped six steals en route to 13 total turnovers.

Another key to the game, Blackshear Jr. finished the game with one foul. That lone whistle was blown with 3:35 remaining. With foul trouble not an issue, the Hokies' big man played 33 minutes and contributed 16 points plus 5 rebounds.

"I think my teammates did a really good job at positioning," noted Blackshear Jr. "Everybody was aggressive on defense and helping each other. That helped us stay out of foul trouble. It helped us get stops and play fast like we normally do."

The night ended with the Hokies earning their first signature win. Until now, Tech's best win according to Pomeroy Rating was over No. 86 Mississippi. By the same metric, UNC is No. 10.

"When we play as hard as we did tonight, we'll have a chance." explained Buzz Williams. "When we don't turn the ball over, we'll have a chance. When we don't give teams multiple shots, I think this was one of the 7 games we had 63 attempts, and they had 63 attempts, well we'll have a chance. They had 10 offensive rebounds, we had 10 offensive rebounds. We'll have a chance. They had 13 turnovers, we had nine. We'll have a chance. It's just a very thin line."

Although, Williams put the magnitude of such a quality win for his squad into perspective.

"Six weeks to go before Selection Sunday," said Williams. "I think we're at Day 48 before Selection Sunday. I think so many things will change across the country, and I think in this league, and I would have to think on it, but there are nine teams I know with three or more losses. And I honestly believe, and most coaches say this about their own league, I think the margin in this league, this year is for sure the thinnest it's been since I've been here. I think you have to get to plus-one, like I mentioned to you Saturday."

"The thing that I'm most grateful for is the effort that we played with. The energy that we played with. The fight that we played with. I'm thankful that it happened at home."

First Half: Virginia Tech 39–North Carolina 32

18:22 ‒ Nickeil Alexander-Walker drains his first three of the night. He's been stone-cold from range recently. A very welcome sight for the Hokie faithful.

17:22 ‒ Justin Bibbs gets called for a charge. It's the second time tonight that a Hokie guard had an open path to the hoop. Both times a UNC player was waiting to try and take the charge.

14:23 ‒ Luke Maye hits UNC's third three in a row. Yet another game where the Hokies are giving up open looks from deep.

14:01 ‒ This is not related to basketball in anyway. Frank Beamer is the GOAT.

6:17 ‒ Whenever Tech hits a three, UNC has their own answer from deep. Must be frustrating for a team that relies so heavily on three-point shooting.

2:59 ‒ Tie ball game. Bede hits a deep ball, and Cassell is downright deafening. I couldn't hear the whistle just now.

2:07 ‒ Sure. Let's have Clarke hit a three. Why not. Hokies are winning, 33-32.

26.3 ‒ Cassell. Is. Loud. This is my first time on press row during a loud game, and it's absolutely scary. Blackshear Jr. just swirled in a three, and Tech has a 36-23 lead. On a 12-2 run.

00.0 ‒ What a run to end the half. Robinson hits a three at the buzzer, and Tech goes into the locker room on a 15-2 run and a 39-32 lead.

Second Half: Virginia Tech 80–North Carolina 69

17:08 ‒ Bibbs goes 0 for 2 from the line. He's been off all night. He just hit his first shot out of seven attempts a couple possessions ago.

10:40 ‒ It's been back and forth all half. Hokies have opened up an ten-point lead off two Hill dunks. It's so loud in here.

7:47 ‒ All a sudden, Tech has a 13-point lead (64-51). If they can keep their composure, the Hokies are inching closer and closer to their first signature win.

3:35 ‒ Final media timeout of the contest, and Tech has kept their distance from the Heels, up 73-60. Tech is just mere minutes away from knocking off the defending national champs.

3:27 ‒ I'm going to say it. Ballgame. Hill hits a corner three and Tech is up 14.

00.0 ‒ Wow. What a win by the Hokies. Tournament hopes are alive, but just barely.

Comments

Ah yeah! We Bak!

It's all about The VPISU
VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804.
Rockin in The Bakken.
GO: Freeman Rebels, Keydets, Black Knights (the VMI of the North), NY Rangers & Giants, and ATL Braves.

I got slightly confused during the article at times since both Buzz and Roy share the Williams name. I'd agree with whichever Williams though that lot of things will change across the country between now and Selection Sunday. We aren't in ideal position now but there are some winnable road games and plenty of top 30 teams coming to Cassell to provide opportunities to further improve the resume. Looking at our remaining schedule, I'd feel much better if we could go 3-1 in the next 4 (@ND, @BC, Miami, NC State) because the stretch run is brutal and we'll need 3 or 4 wins in the final 7 games too.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

Arya Stark is a Hokie.

That's a good wrap piece as always, Mr. Skutt. But what we the people really want to know is did you storm the court from press row and if so, how many dirty looks did you get?

"Eat it, Berman, I'm going for the interview!"

-H. Skutt, probably.

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

I would've had to swan dive from press row, and my body isn't up for that unfortunately.

Chem PhD '16

Great write up, I love your thought flow during the game (need more of these with happy endings).

___

-What we do is, if we need that extra push, you know what we do? -Put it up to fully dipped? -Fully dipped. Exactly. It's dork magic.

Great write up. I was on press row for the Pitt win.(first ACC won of the year) when Adam Smith won it in OT at the buzzer and could barely keep from cheering. Props to any tech fan reporter that sat through that last night's game without going nuts. Cassell is way too much fun when it's loud

Here lies It's a Stroman Jersey I Swear, surpassed in life by no one because he intercepted it.

3:27 ‒ I'm going to say it. Ballgame. Hill hits a corner three and Tech is up 14.

I thought the same thing when his shot fell. Up until then I was still uneasy, just expecting UNC to put together a late run and series of bricks from the Hokies, but Hill went ahead and slammed the door in their face.

Just like football.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

I got most nervous when with like 5 minutes left, J-Rob slowed the offense down for like two or three possessions in a row and going late in the shot clock. But it worked out, and the team finished really strong.

--
"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

Really glad we didn't mentally let up when we faced some adversity in the first half. The way the last few games have gone, it would be easy to throw in the towel mentally, but they stuck to the game plan. It was so good to see a packed Cassell too. Kudos to all of the students, season ticket holders, and everyone else who showed up to give the boys energy all night.

"What kind of person would throw away a perfectly good dog?"

The score even looks bad for UNC but it could have been a 17-20 point game I think. We missed a lot of open threes in the second half. At the end of the day that's just fine because I love seeing the tarholes lose.

Another white bronco? The first one didn't go too far.

On the defensive end, Tech outrebounded the No. 1 rebounding team in the ACC.

Let's Go

HOKIES

That's so cute, look at Barkley trying to jump.

Love that clip! But I do have to put my old guy NBA fan hat on and point out that Barkley was one of the best rebounders in NBA history (19th all-time in total rebounds, 20th in per game).

To do it at 6' 4'' was a testimony to his surprising athleticism.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

I believe he was 6'6"

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

He's 6'6" like Michael Vick is 6'1"

6'4 3/4ths in the more physical, bigger, non small ball era.

ummm, when he was 3 bills at auburn he had amazing hops .. all the way thru the late 80s when that gif was made.

rodman is a tip rebounder, a totally different style than 90% of rebounders in the league. timing, springy, and a lot of heart.

Right on both counts. I remember watching Sir Charles in the NCAAs back in the day when they called him "Food World", and he was amazing, truly unforgettable.
Rodman gets a lot of shit, a lot of laughs, but man, best rebounder of all time, I think.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Rodman was great at what he did. He was definitely one of my basketball heroes as a kid. Him and Steve Kerr.

I guess I like people who did one thing really well.

what about jack haley, his one thing he did well was be a bit more sober than dennis rodman and keep him out of trouble.

I'm getting a Seth Greenberg vibe from this year's team. Hopefully this game was a turning point.

"I mean, you know, fuck them, but good for them." -Too Druck to Funk

A top ten win and probably still gonna miss the tournament, The Seth Greenberg Special

You're certifiably insane

Hahaha. I got that. Nice one.

Leonard. Duh.

Random question but shouldn't that have been a foul on the full court heave at the end of the first half? I couldn't believe Bibbs actually left his feet and looks like he made contact. That would have been called at the other end but I guess the refs bite their whistle in that scenario.

Great win, hope we can build on this one.

Yes it should have. We were lucky to avoid a lot of calls last night.

Agreed. I won't say that the refs were pro- Hokie, but the epidemic whistle swallowing (especially no call charge/blocking all night) on both ends of the court definitely aids the style that the Hokies play.

Roy Williams coached teams - Count on the refs to bail them out strategy.

Buzz Williams coached teams - Man, I hope he doesn't see that strategy.

Leonard. Duh.

I definitely agree that we can maintain our momentum and energy if we aren't getting constantly stopped with "ticky-tac" fouls. I don't know the final counts, but well into each half we were only at 4 or 5 fouls. I was yelling that we should even be playing TIGHTER defense until they start calling us.

I agree I thought that was definitely a foul and should have been 3 shots for Carolina

While we're at it, Buzz definitely should have been T'd up when he ran onto the court. Honest mistake on his part, but not many coaches would get away with that. Gotta love some home cooking

In most situations yes, but in that particular moment the ref had called time and was the reason why Buzz went onto the court. Buzz talked with Roy to explain that as well and I saw the ref confirm that decision to the both of them. But I agree that Med should have been called for a foul at the half, the only reason he might have gotten away with it was because UNC shot after the buzzer.

Gotcha, I guess I was too busy laughing maniacally at Roy getting butthurt because god forbid the refs have any perceived bias that isn't pro UNC or Duke to catch the explanation.

Ref's let both teams play yesterday. 5 vs 12 at the charity strip. Far cry from the 18 vs 22 normally.

Buzz said postgame that the official had said the next timeout would be a media timeout. Official came up to both coaches to apologize when they met at halfcourt. Pretty awkward all around, but an innocent mistake.

I think he thought it was going to be the under 12 time out.

Actually, this wouldn't be a foul, regardless of the circumstance. In college, they removed the shooting foul rule where if the defender goes straight up and the shooter jumps into the defender, this is no longer a foul. Bibbs jumped straight up to defend and the shooter's momentum towards the basket had him jumping into Bibbs. Perfectly called/non-called

#HokieNation
"Tyrod did it, Mikey! Tyrod did it!" -Bill Roth

This is exactly correct and is a point of emphasis for officials this season, which is another reason you are seeing less blocking fouls in the lane as well.

very surprised, my 12 year old didn't b understand why I thought VT would blow it. must be nice not to be jaded.

we'll need this effort rebounding every game and more effort on the defensive end. can't expect teams to be off each game, if we want to continue pushing for a tourney bid.

I'm dubious about this happening, for now this is the outlier until proven otherwise.

Hahaha I remember my dad being the same way in one of our big wins, maybe 2005 Maryland. Now I've learned all too well how we usually pull defeat from the jaws of victory

So awesome! Still gonna be an uphill fight, but this was an amazing first step!

So glad we went last night. Love being behind the visitors bench, the look on Roy's face at 4:58 when 5 dribbled the shot clock down under ten seconds and then drained a three... They were trying to claw their way back in, but we kept making shots on our end.

One of the highlights for me was at the end of the game, Superfan (of Devin Hunter commit video fame) came bouncing down through the seats and climbed all over the UNC family seating (behind their bench) and tried to hurtle the rail... but caught his toe and did a faceplant into the visiting team (bench) seats. Just wish I had caught it on video, that guy annoys me to no end.

Damn that was a good game. The students deserve a lot of credit, the Cassell was on fire.

.

.
I never met a project that couldn't justify a new tool.

One of the highlights for me was at the end of the game, Superfan (of Devin Hunter commit video fame) came bouncing down through the seats and climbed all over the UNC family seating (behind their bench) and tried to hurtle the rail... but caught his toe and did a faceplant into the visiting team (bench) seats. Just wish I had caught it on video, that guy annoys me to no end.

Your comment would have gone Double Plaid had you been able to get that on film

"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

I don't think it's a coincidence that Buzz got back to his active, sweaty, shirt-changing antics last night and our team seemed to play with similar fire. That's the Buzz I'd like to see on an every game basis, and I can't be the only one.

I was fired up watching him bouncing like a kangaroo after JRob took that charge. That type of excitement is always contagious!

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

I noticed that too. This season he has been very calm and steady. I missed the Buzz that was doing flying kicks and going crazy. Glad to see the hair doesn't actually weigh him down.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

FAM!