Domination… Virginia Tech basketball looked as good as they have all year.
It was over in the first five minutes. Well, maybe an 8-0 lead didn’t mean the game was “over”, but there was never a moment the Virginia Tech basketball team didn’t look like they had complete control of their home game Sunday afternoon against Lamar. Two days ago, I wrote a piece about the Sophomore guard Justin Bibbs, and the impact he’s been making. Two days later, he opened up Tech’s scoring with a 3, followed by a 2, followed by another 3. Lamar wouldn’t score until 5 minutes and 38 seconds into the game, and it would end up being a nightmare afternoon for the Cardinals, losing 88-53.
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Several things stuck out to me from this game. First was the success Tech had from beyond the three-point line against a team known for playing pretty good defense away from the basket. Bibbs, who’s been great from deep all year, hit five 3’s out of nine attempts. Jalen Hudson, Seth Allen, and Justin Robinson would combine to add four more. The Hokies have generated a lot of their points from the free throw line this year. Going into this game, they lead the nation in free throw attempts, but Sunday afternoon, they found success from long-range early, and then just sort of rolled with it.
Lamar’s best player and highest scorer this season, Nick Garth, was absolutely shut down, suffocated, and made to look quite ordinary. He was only 4/13 from the field, and never seemed to be settled into the game. Complete credit for that goes to a very good Virginia tech defensive effort. Before Sunday, Lamar hadn’t scored anything less than 69 points in a game.
Just because it wasn’t ever close, doesn’t mean Buzz Williams wasn’t sweating. The commentators in the first half even noticed the perspiration, and unfortunately for Buzz, it got so bad he had to make a wardrobe change at halftime. It appears he had run out of clean button downs, because he’d emerge in the second half in an orange t-shirt. Hopefully he has a laundry day planned before their game next Saturday against Grambling State.
Dec 13, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Buzz Williams instructs his team during the second half of the game against the Lamar Cardinals at Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Tech also aggressively pushed the pace, even in the second half with a large lead. They were much faster in transition, and generated a lot of points from Lamar’s inability to get back on defense quickly. The most exciting stat of the day though? 58 of Tech’s 88 points were scored by a Hokie freshman or sophomore. This team is young, this team is improving, and this team can be great. Buzz Williams seems to have successfully brought in a lot of talent, but playing against Lamar is a lot different than against a Duke or UNC, so we’ll learn a lot more about these Hokie youngsters in the coming months.
All in all, Sunday’s blowout is a tough game to examine and take much away from as ACC play looms in the near future. The Hokies have Grambling State and Saint Joseph’s coming up before facing a very good West Virginia team who led a top 10 UVA team by 13 in the first half, before loosing steam and losing the game in the second half. After that it won’t get much easier as ACC play begins and we all know how loaded the ACC is this year. Let’s just be grateful Maryland moved to the Big 10. It’s still tough to tell whether the Hokies will be able to compete with any of the ACC teams in the Top 25, but progress has definitely been made with the young guys and Buzz Williams has to feel confident that they could surprise a team or two.