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The Hokies faced Miami in their conference opener and came up with an impressive win. It was a big thing for the Hokies to start off in the conference with a win. It did take overtime and some clutch shots from Jarell Eddie to pull off their fourth straight win. The Hokies were picked to finish dead last in the ACC, while Miami was picked to finish twelfth. Needless to say, no one expected the Hokies to win this game, even though Miami isn’t the team they were last year.
The Hurricanes took a 31-23 lead into half and it came mainly from their inside scoring. Miami outscored Tech eighteen to four in the paint. The Hokies also allowed five offensive boards that led to easy Miami buckets. Tech is a team that is going to live and die by the three point line this season. When Tech is able to shoot well and get good looks they will be in the game, but when they cannot it will be a long night. Tech only shot thirty one percent from the three point line and only thirty percent overall. Miami didn’t shot well from outside, but overall shot forty five percent. The points in the paint were clearly the difference, though. Since the Hokies couldn’t score down low and were struggling from down town, Miami was able to pull away late in the half.
The Hokies and Canes came out slow in the second half, but finally Eddie, along with Marshall Wood, got going. Wood hit three (two in regulation and one in overtime) key threes that helped spark a 10-3 Virginia Tech run that got them back into the game. Joey Van Zegeren also came up huge with some offensive rebounds that led to easy buckets. He had a really nice put back slam. Later in the half it took another Virginia Tech run (10-1) to bring them within striking distance. Eddie hit the game tying three after a pump fake to get the defender off of his feet. Tech got the ball back with around eleven seconds left but Jarell was blocked on his shot attempt. The ball was blocked out of bounds and left .03 on the clock. So all the Hokies had time for was a tip in at the rim. Tech lobbed the ball towards the rim on the inbound and Van Zegeren tipped the ball in, but after a further replay it showed that he didn’t quite get it off quite in time.
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The overtime period started off with Miami winning the tip and scoring a basket to take a two point lead. The Hokies answered the bell with a three pointer by Marshall Wood and took a 59-58 lead. Then both teams traded some missed shots, but then Donnavan Kirk was fouled and only made one of the two free throws for Miami to tie the game back up. Both teams again went through a series of missed opportunities. Miami forced a turnover by Van Zegeren and was on a fast break, but Van Zegeren hustled back and blocked the shot off the back board. Tech then took the ball down the court and called a timeout. After the timeout Jarell Eddie got the ball and a magnificent double pump jumper that banked in off the glass to give the Hokies the lead. This ended up being the game winning shot. Miami did have a chance to possibly force a third overtime. The Canes got the ball back, after Eddie’s jumper, and called a timeout. Garrius Adams drove down the lane and was fouled. He went to the line and only made one of two. Tech was able to secure the rebound after the ball being tipped around and eventually going out of bounds. The Hokies just heaved the ball down the court and after the ball was tipped the time expired.
This was a great win for the Hokies. The win gave them their first conference win and allowed to start off on the right foot as they get ready to head into ACC play. Eddie once again stepped up (finishing with 24 points), even after a roller coaster ride of a day. He started off hot, then fell into a slump, but was able to find his rhythm just when the Hokies needed him to. The Hokies improved to 7-3 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
Tech heads to Richmond to face VCU next Saturday. VCU started off the season ranked (14 and got as high as 10) in the top 25, but after two loses (to Florida State and Georgetown) they are unranked. VCU is currently 8-2, but will have two games before they face the Hokies. On the other hand the Hokies have two entire weeks to prepare for the Rams. We all know that VCU has a great coach in Shaka Smart, so you can be sure they will be ready to play this game. Will the long time off help or hurt the Hokies. The one positive is it will give time for the Hokies to continue to get healthy. Ben Emelogu and Adam Smith were able to play against Miami after each being out, but CJ Barksdale missed this game with an injury. I don’t expect the Hokies to win this game unless they shoot lights out from three, but I would like to see them complete, because VCU would be a good measuring stick since they have made it to the tournament the past several seasons.
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