I don't know what takes place at a James Johnson practice, but I can't imagine he highlights free throws as an area of importance. The story of the game Saturday was the continual struggle of Virginia Tech from the free throw line and their inability to get into an offensive set. It would be unwise to blame the 65-45 loss to UVA on free throws alone, but when you leave 11 points out on the floor it's hard to find any rhythm and keep the game close. It also didn't help that UVA Sophomore Justin Anderson played intense defense on Tech's young Point Guard Devin Wilson who could not seem to find his game today (2-of-8 from the floor). Anderson picked up Wilson from half-court seemingly every possession, forcing Wilson to pass it off to the wing or try to do it all himself. Wilson wasn't the only Tech player who struggled offensively the team shot a mere 33% from the field and 17% from beyond the arc.
Under coach Tony Bennett, Virginia has always been a disciplined and defensive minded team. This season has been no different. Many of their losses have been the result of poor offensive performances (such as their 38 point performance vs Wisconsin). Today UVA applied heavy pressure to Tech ball handlers, trapped screens, and contested every shot in the paint. For a Tech team that has struggled all season putting the ball in the hoop they had no answer for Bennett's defensive scheme. While it wasn't as ugly as their 27 turnover effort against VCU, it was difficult to watch at times.
Virginia Tech on the other hand sat back in a 2-3 zone where they lazily watched UVA pass it around for an open shot, I've seen more intense zones out of high school programs. The intensity you'd expect from a rivalry game just wasn't there for the Hokies today. However, it was comforting to see freshman captain Ben Emelogu back on the court after missing the past two games with an ankle injury. While he only managed to shoot 2-of-6 (which included a banked three pointer) his presence on the wing was a sight for sore eyes. Adam Smith is still out with his stress fracture and calf problems. The team is getting healthier, and injuries may not be the principle excuse for poor play any longer.
It will be hard to find any bright spots today. The only scorer in double digits was Devin Wilson who scored 12 points on eight shots. Cardarian Raines was effective in his limited minutes grabbing eight boards and hitting two of three shots. He is after all "what a four point a game guy?" per Johnson. UVA enjoyed an 18 point, 6 rebound performance from its breakout guard Malcolm Brogdon. Wahoos star Joe Harris never really forced the action today, and only ended up with 12 points. The Cavaliers moved to 5-1 in the ACC but they face a tough road ahead when they travel Notre Dame and #20 Pittsburgh next week. Virginia Tech fans will be happy to know the team has an excellent chance to end it's six game losing streak this Wednesday vs fellow ACC bottom dweller Boston College (5-14, 1-5 ACC).