Nov 19, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Ahmed Hill (13) passes the ball against the Liberty Flames in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Wednesday night in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech Hokies took the court against the Liberty Flames with the intention to come away with a win. The Hokies succeeded in this goal. However, Liberty gave the Hokies a better test than fans had hoped for.
The Flames came into Blacksburg unafraid and with intentions of giving Buzz Williams his first loss as the Hokies head coach. However, Williams’s new team were up to the challenge. The Hokies used a lot of the same techniques used to get the win against Maryland Eastern Shore to get a win versus Liberty.
These techniques included a hard-nosed defense and getting out and running the floor. These techniques were very familiar to the Liberty coaching staff as Flames head coach Dale Layer and Hokies head coach Buzz Williams share coaching ties thought-out their coaching careers.
The Hokies on Friday night were led by the newcomers but tonight it was the old guard that led the way for Virginia Tech. Hokie forward Joey Van Zegeren finished as the high point man with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Van Zegeren was extremely active around the rim and made the Liberty height advantage seem not that big of a deal.
Van Zegeren wasn’t the only old guard Hokie to excel as Devin Wilson was all over the court and left his fingerprint on every aspect of the game. Wilson finished with 13 points, 9 assists, 2 steals and 3 rebounds. The Hokie sophomore guard, who was a top assist guy last year, ran the offense well and made several big plays late to help the Hokies seal the game. The offensive production was very good as every starter aside from Malik Muller, who was hampered by fouls, finished with double figures. The only downfall for the Hokie offense was the fact they turned the ball over 19 times and were only 16-28 on the foul line.
The Hokies, while committing 19 turnovers of their own, forced Liberty into 21 turnovers. The defense was very frantic and moved to the ball extremely well. There is a definite move towards becoming a better defensive team from the past couple of years. The game was a lot closer than it should have been as the Hokies, even though they played great defense, let the Flames hang around.
The Flames were led in scoring by Tomasz Gielo, and Ryan Kemrite scoring 13 and 11 respectively. The Flames shot a mediocre 42 percent from the field but it was the turnovers that led to many Hokie runouts and easy points which doomed them. The Hokies looked improved from the first game if that seems possible, which is definitely an encouraging sign for the games to come. There is a lot to be happy about Hokie fans as it seems the basketball team is starting off in the right direction.