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After a 7-0 start, reality came crashing down when Erick Green’s final shot rimmed out, securing the Hokies first loss of the season. With Tech overachieving through the first month of the schedule, the Hokies were due for a heartbreaking loss. We seem to have several of them a year.
Honestly, basketball games can come down to several lucky bounces. West Virginia shot unbelievably better from three-point range than they have all season. They finished 10-24, good for 41.7%. Even forward Kevin Noreen, who’s not known for his three-point shooting ability, drained two of three today. In college basketball, there are going to be games where everything seemingly goes against you. For Virginia Tech, this was one of those days.
Not only was West Virginia shooting well above their ability, the Hokies had to deal with foul trouble down the stretch. Jarrell Eddie sat for much of the first half with two fouls then picked up his 4th foul early in the 2nd half. Eddie played just 20 minutes and scored only five points. Raines picked up his 4th midway through the 2nd half but managed to not draw his 5th thanks to some savvy substitutions from Head Coach James Johnson.
This game came down to whether or not Tech could overcome a large early deficit and shoot well enough to win this game down the stretch. Unfortunately, Tech fell just short of stealing a win from West Virginia. Green had a tremendous performance with 23 points and 10 assists. More impressive though, Green never turned the ball over.
Robert Brown added 21 points including a huge three-pointer that gave the Hokies a one point lead with 17 seconds left.
However, there was one stat that ultimately did the Hokies in. West Virginia outrebounded Tech 46-33, giving the Mountaineers numerous second chance points throughout the game. Had the Hokies kept an even margin on the glass, this game might not have been close in the end.
You have to tip your caps to West Virginia as they played a tremendous game at home. I have a feeling this would have been a different outcome had the game been played elsewhere.
The good news is the Hokies went into a hostile environment, battled, and could have easily won this game if they executed on their end. That provides me with a lot of hope as we head into ACC play next month.
However, the Hokies are going to need to make a more concerted effort to rebound the basketball going forward. That means easing back on the gas at times and keeping an extra guard in the half court to chase down long rebounds. Right now, the Hokies are releasing a guard to try to run the court. That’s great when the game is favoring that pace but like this matchup with WVU, I would have traded some fast break opportunities for less West Virginia second chances.
Going forward, the Hokies have two should win games coming up at home before heading out to the west coast for the holidays. Even though today’s loss is disappointing, Tech can still get to 11 or 12 wins before ACC play begins. Hopefully, the team uses this game as a learning moment and can get better because of it. Onto Mississippi Valley State.
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