It says a lot about this basketball team that by far the worst game they've played this year to this point was a 1-point loss. They competed, they made some pretty big plays down the stretch, but they didn't play a very sound game of basketball, particularly on the defensive glass. West Virginia pulled down 23 offensive rebounds in this one, over twice as many as the Hokies.
The concerns about the Hokies interior depth were put to the test today, and unfortunately the Hokies failed. Some of that has to do with West Virginia's size, as they brought more legitimate bigs to the mix than any team the Hokies had played to date. It stands to reason that West Virginia would win the rebounding battle, and anyone who thought that wouldn't be the case was optimistic. But the truth is that winning it by the margin that they did won the Mountaineers the game. The Mounatineers were +11 on the boards, and often on the offensive end, their rebounds created second and third chances that resulted in scores or trips to the line. Sometimes that was the Mountaineers size and length, but sometimes that was the result of the Hokies failing to box out or poor positioning.
Though it stinks to be saddled with a loss, especially one that the Hokies could have just as easily won, there is no shame in losing to West Virginia. Yes, this may be the weakest team they have fielded in years, but they battled as well, and were on fire from deep. I'm sure that if Robert Brown's 3 was the last made shot that they would feel the same way Hokie fans do right now.
The biggest injustice out of the loss is that the Hokies wasted Erick Green's 23-point, 10-assist and ZERO-turnover game! What a great game by a great kid. And according to this tweet:
By the way, Erick had flu last 2 days, didn't practice and lost 7 pounds. Great effort by the kid tonight— KipTJam (@KipTJam) December 8, 2012
And according to this one:
Green's 23 points and career-high 10 assists gives him his first career double-double.— VT Men's Basketball (@VT_MBBall) December 8, 2012
Robert Brown had a really up-and-down game, highlighted by an alley-oop and a BS bank 3-pointer with just a few seconds left that gave the Hokies a 67-66 lead. He finished with 21 points. No other Hokie was in double digits. Cadarian Raines finished with 8 points, 8 boards and a block, and considering he did that with as few touches as he did, that's pretty miraculous. He did miss two pretty crucial free throws though with the Hokies trailing late. Tech really went away from the post in this one, instead forcing up tough, contested 3's and long-range 2's. They're going to have to fix that. West Virginia did a great job defensively, taking away the shots the Hokies normally get.
C.J. Barksdale contributed 6 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Hokies, and Jarell Eddie was held to his lowest point-total of the season with 5 points. He also added 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Eddie sat out the majority of the game with foul trouble, and was called for three offensive fouls, the last of which he disagreed with demonstratively and was visibly upset on the bench.
Speaking of the bench (or lack thereof), the three players the Hokies used, Marquis Rankin, Joey Van Zegeren and Marshall Wood contributed a total of 4 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 assists on a combined 1-of-10 from the floor and 0-of-3 from deep. Those numbers have to improve, particularly for Marquis Rankin who was 0-of-5 and 0-of-2 from 3-point range by himself, most of which were exceedingly reckless and ill-advised shots, not only ending Virginia Tech possessions, but also starting WVU fast breaks.
Tech will return home for a two-game set with Mississippi Valley State (Dec. 10) and Georgia Southern (Dec. 15) as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, before boarding a plane and fly to the vice capital of the world, Las Vegas, to face Bradley on Dec. 22. Both of the games in Cassell Coliseum will be on ESPN3, but the Bradley game is yet to have a scheduled TV provider. Should the Hokies beat Bradley and make it to the championship game of the tournament, that game will be on CBS SN.
For more comprehensive coverage of Virginia Tech basketball, stick with us here at Gobbler Country. If you're a Mountaineer and you have somehow found yourself on this page, I will redirect you home here. Good game, but seriously, we don't have any couches.