Feb 14, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Malik Muller (1) drives to the basket while being defended by Clemson Tigers forward Donte Grantham (15) during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Basketball program has been playing tough all season, but toughness can only take you so far. In 1929 there was a gang land killing in Chicago, called the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where 6 mobsters were murdered. Yesterday, at Littlejohn Coliseum the Hokies experienced their own version of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. In this massacre the ammunition was not bullets but was long range shooting, and the deaths were not humans but momentum the Hokies had created in the previous games. Clemson jumped on the Hokies early and demolished Buzz William’s young team 75-54.
Coming into the game the Hokies had momentum, and confidence stemming from a comeback win over a Georgia Tech team, who is better than their record would suggest. The Hokies however have been horrible on the road this season. That trend would not change on Saturday afternoon.
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Clemson had been playing well as of late. The Tiger had seemed too figured out a rotation that worked for them. This revelation could not have come at a better time as the Tigers are on the bubble for a NCAA tourney bid. The revelation was inserting junior Jordan Roper into the starting lineup. Roper has been on fire for the last seven games and he continued his hot shooting against the Hokies. Roper led the Tigers outside shooting onslaught, knocking down 5 out of the 11 triples for the Tigers. Roper, who finished with 21 points, and the Tigers used the three point shot to build a 19 point half time lead, 41-22.
The Hokies have had experience come back from big half time deficits, coming from 10 down in their last victory. However, this was not to be one of those days. The Tigers continued to keep the pedal to the floor extending their lead to 58-24 before the first TV timeout of the half. Clemson would eventually push the lead out to 35 points at one point. Roper was not the only Tiger in double figures. Jaron Blossomgame, finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds.
The Hokies were doomed by poor shooting. Finishing the game shooting only 36 percent will not win you very many games in the ACC. It seems this Hokie team goes through periods of the game where they struggle to find someone who can create a basket. More to the point, they struggle with finding a player who can create and finish a basket. Recently, the majority of the offense has come from Malik Mueller.
Mueller played a solid game once again, finishing with 17 points. Mueller also hit 5 three pointers. Since moving to the four man position in Buzz William’s offense Mueller has put up these type of numbers. This is the type of offense fans of the Hokies can hope to see from Mueller in the future. The Hokies only had one other player in double figures and that was Adam Smith with 13.
Once again Justin Bibbs struggled mightily. The leading scorer for the Hokies has not been the same since his return from a concussion. It seems like a broken record, Bibbs playing poorly for the Hokies. Perhaps Bibbs is still not at a 100 percent or has some other nagging injury he is trying to work through. Either of these two reasons could explain why the talented freshman only played 16 minutes yesterday.
To put it bluntly the Hokies got massacred yesterday. I know that seems like a harsh analysis of the game, but the truth hurts. Games like yesterday’s game happen sometimes. It’s like Coach William’s said “When you’ve lost so many times, it’s not like the win lingers around for very long.” As sad as that statement might sound it is true the Hokies have lost a lot of games this year. However, the next game always presents a new opportunity for improvement, and the beginning of a new win streak.