Nov 14, 2014; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams gives instructions during game play in the first half against the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies faced their toughest opponent of the season tonight in the Northern Iowa Panthers. Northern Iowa is a team that could be in the top 25 in the next week or two as long as they stay undefeated and are clearly the toughest opponent on the Hokies’ non-conference schedule other than West Virginia.
There was some hope that the Hokies might be able to contend with the Panthers but that wasn’t the case.
Northern Iowa defeated Virginia Tech 73-54 in a game that opened up a lot in the second half after the Hokies were down 9 at halftime. Northern Iowa went on a 10-0 run at one opoint in the second half which turned the game into a blowout. After that run, the Hokies did outscore the Panthers by 1 but the game was clearly out of reach at that point especially since Northen Iowa rested some of their best players.
Joey Van Zegeren was able to avoid foul trouble early in the game which was critical to get him going. Van Zegeren was the leading scorer in this game with 15 points along with having 6 rebounds and 1 block in 25 minutes. Seth Tuttle might not have been as effective as normal for the Panthers but the Hokies couldn’t completely slow the senior down as he had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block in 25 minutes.
One big issue for the Hokies in this game was the number of free throws they allowed and how many the Panthers made with Northern Iowa going 18 of 20 from the charity stripe. Meanwhile, the Hokies were not as effective in that aspect as they were 3 of 8 from the free throw line. This type of difference added up to a lot in this game and is something the Hokies must improve.
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Virginia Tech also lost the turnover battle with 14 turnovers in this game compared to 9 from Northern Iowa. The Panthers also had 4 in double figures while Virginia Tech only had Van Zegeren in double figures.
The Hokies have a very young team and playing an experienced team like Northern Iowa will be good for the Hokies as they prepare for the extremely tough ACC. The Hokies will play in the consolation game tomorrow and hopefully will be able to get back above .500 at 3-2.
The key word for the Hokies this season is patience as Buzz Williams leads the Virginia Tech basketball rebuilding project.