Feb 7, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Florida State Seminoles center Michael Ojo (50) defends Virginia Tech Hokies forward Satchel Pierce (21) in the first half at Cassell Coliseum. Florida State defeated Virginia Tech 73-65. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Well Hokie fans there was an electricity in the air in Cassell Coliseum today, as the Virginia Tech Hokies took on the Seminoles from Florida State. This was the 50th meeting between the two teams. Coming into the game it felt like the 50th meeting might be a win for the Hokies. However, it was not to be for the Hokies, as the fans at the Cassell went home disappointed again. The Hokies lost for the 14th time this year 73-65.
The game was billed as a David and Goliath matchup, not because Florida State is such a juggernaut, but because they are very big and the Hokies are very small. The game was a test to see if quickness and toughness could overcome a devastating size advantage. The Hokies all year have fought the uphill battle that comes with having a team that is undersized in every game they play. In this game the Hokies were very undersized and it showed.
The first half started off very slowly as both teams struggled to find their rhythm offensively. At first the size difference did not show, as the Hokies were able to offset the size difference with pressure defense and quickness. However, it was only a matter of time before the size game came into play. The Seminoles, used this size advantage in the pick and roll game to perfection. Michael Ojo, was a definite handful for the Hokies. Ojo is a mountain of a man, and the only way the Hokies could seem to stop a pick and roll with Ojo involved was to foul the big man.
The Hokie offense also had a hard time getting in to rhythm against the big front line of the Seminoles. The Hokie offense depends on the ability to break the defense down and get to the rim to score, or kick the ball out for the open shot. The Hokies were unable to get to the rim to score because of the Seminole rim protectors, plus the active hands and long arms of the defense prevented clear passes to the outside. However, when the passes did make it to the outside the Hokies struggled with knocking the shot down. Even with the poor performance on offense the Hokies were only down by 5, 31-26 when the half time buzzer sounded.
The second half was much more of the same as the size factor, and execution of the Seminoles overwhelmed the Hokies. The Hokies at one point cut the lead to 1, but Florida State would balloon it out 17 at one point. However, the Hokies never quit and went on a major run late to get the game close again. However, all these late game heroics were not enough as the lead had gotten out of hand already.
The Hokies did do some things quite right in the loss. As I said in the preview, the Hokies needed to stop Xavier Rathan-Mayes from having a huge game offensively. For the most part they did just that holding Rathan-Mayes to only 12 points with half of them coming from the foul line. Rathan-Mayes however, did have 11 assist and impacted the game by setting his teammates up. Montay Brandon made up for Rathan-Mayes lack of scoring, pouring in 16 points of his own.
The Seminoles out rebounded the Hokies by 11, which was 9 less than the last time the two teams met. However, Buzz William’s team was able to offset the rebounding deficit in a fashion by forcing 20 turnovers. The Hokies used these turnovers to get out in transition and were able to get some fast break points before the size of the Seminoles got down the court. Adam Smith and Ahmed Hill both were able to do this very effectively. Smith and Hill both finished with 19 which led all scorers. These two were however, not able to overcome the poor performance of Justin Bibbs.
Bibbs in his third game back from a concussion, played his worst game of the season. Bibbs was held to only 3 points, all of which came from the free throw line. Bibbs looked tired and his shot was lacking a certain power. This was the first time Bibbs had shown effects of missing games and practice time. Hopefully, this is only a one game anomaly as the Hokies need his offense to be successful for the rest of the season.
The Hokies lost this game but once again they didn’t give up. It seems like that is a running theme for this first season under Buzz Williams. The Hokies as I said before in the preview have a stretch of winnable games coming on the horizon. In these winnable games the Hokies need to do more than just play hard, they need to get the job done and win some of these games. Wins will create momentum, something Buzz Williams and company will desperately need for the rest of the season, as well as the off season.