In a rematch of the January 7th meeting in Tallahassee, the Hokies look for payback against Florida State in the ACC Quarterfinals
Virginia Tech played one heck of a second half in last night’s ACC Second Round victory against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. After a lackadaisical first half filled with below-average defense and plenty of missed open shots, the Hokies tightened the reigns in the second half to overcome their 44-37 halftime deficit and win, 99-90. Tech outscored Wake Forest 62-46 in the second half flurry to overtake the Demon Deacons.
That second half version of the Hokies will need to be the team that shows up for a full 40 minutes on Thursday night, as Tech takes quite a step up in competition as they face the Florida State Seminoles. The ‘Noles, who earned the conference’s #2 seed in the tournament, stomped the Hokies in their only meeting of the season back in early January by a final score of 93-78. The game was never as close as the final 15-point spread, with Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon and Terance Mann combining for 39 points in the win.
If you’re Buzz Williams, there are two aspects of this match-up tonight that you’re concerned about.
First, the rebounding and size of the Seminoles. Florida State averages nearly four more rebounds per game than the Hokies, with freshman sensation Jonathan Isaac leading the way with 7.2 boards per game.
Standing at 6’10”, he’s a nightmare for the opposition to defend. While the Hokies have a freshman of similar stature in Khadim Sy, Isaac is much more seasoned and will likely be defended for a majority of the game by 6’5″ forward Zach LeDay, with help from a wing in doubling the post.
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This, of course, leads to passing lanes for open shooters, which Florida State has plenty of, when considering their leading scorer Dwayne Bacon (16.9 ppg., 44% shooting), as well as their third-best scorer, Xavier Rathan-Mayes (10.4 ppg., 46% shooting).
Second, the depth of Florida State should give Buzz Williams pause. As has been well-documented at this point, the Hokies currently only play seven in their rotation given all of the injuries on the roster. Couple that with the fact that they just played last night and they’re already behind the 8-ball. The Seminoles, meanwhile have 11 players averaging at least 9.9 minutes per game or more, and haven’t played a game since last Saturday. They’ll be well-rested.
The Hokies can score offensively with the best of them as we have seen all season long, but the defensive intensity and energy in the second half will ultimately tell the story of whether or not Tech will have a real chance to advance to the ACC Semifinals.
The Hokies and the Seminoles will tip-off from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7 PM ET on Thursday night. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.