After defeating No. 5 Duke on Big Monday earlier this week, Virginia Tech traveled down to Coral Gables to try to even the series against the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday. The Hokies led 39-37 at halftime, the twentieth time they have led at halftime this season, but the lead slipped away as the Hurricanes outscored the Hokies 37-29 in the second half.
Led by Justin Robinson, the Hokies played well in the first half but came out in the second half and couldn't buy a basket for the first few minutes. Robinson led Tech with 18 points and 6 assists, but he also had six of Virginia Tech's 15 turnovers in the game, the most he's committed this season and the second most ever in his career. Robinson had 7 turnovers last year in a December game against UMBC. Tech had 14 points off Miami's 13 turnovers while the Hurricanes had 18 points off Tech's 15.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. contributed 11 points and five rebounds but only played 23 minutes in the game because of foul trouble. Chris Clarke was the only other Hokie in double figures with 10 points, and he also added five rebounds. Justin Bibbs added nine points on 3/7 shooting from beyond the arc while Ahmed Hill had his best game in a while and scored 7 points. Hill hit two 3's for the first time since the Boston College game on February 1st.
Unfortunately, this loss means that Virginia Tech finishes in 7th place in the ACC. While finishing seventh is not terrible, a win against Miami would've put the team in fifth at worst and with Clemson losing to Syracuse, the Hokies would have been in prime position for fourth place and a double-bye. One point short.
There are still some positives to take away from the game; Tyrie Jackson, Wabissa Bede, and P.J. Horne all produced very well in their limited amount of minutes. Devin Wilson was held scoreless though, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker only had two points. It's hard to expect so much from Alexander-Walker, a true freshman, and Wilson, a more defensive player, not necessarily a scorer; however, a bucket or two in crunch time would've been nice.
The Hokies are still going dancing and the season isn't over. They shot 47% when Miami shot 48%. The game was sloppy at times but Tech crawled back into the game, showed fight, and if it weren't for a not-so-great call by the referees with 3 seconds left to send Miami point guard Chris Lykes to the line to hit the game winning free throw, the Hokies would be playing on Thursday instead of Wednesday and all would be right in the world of Virginia Tech.
The Hokies travel to Brooklyn and play Wednesday night at 7pm against the winner of the first round game between the 10 seed (Florida State or Notre Dame) and the 15th seeded Pittsburgh. Win that game and you have a rematch against the number two seed, whether it be Duke or North Carolina.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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