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Virginia Tech Defeats Jacksonville St., 71-62

Wednesday night's matchup marks the first win of the 2015 season for the Hokies.

Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Hokies nab their first win of the young season against Jacksonville State, winning 71-62 and turning in a strong defensive performance. Virginia Tech was able to limit the Gamecocks to a paltry 37.5% field goal percentage, including just 25% from three point range. Those numbers become even more impressive considering Jacksonville State came into the game averaging over 85 points a game on 46% shooting.

The Hokies were able to use their size advantage to dominate the glass, ending up with a +25 rebounding margin, and creating a plethora of second chances on offense. In fact, 20 of the 54 rebounds the Hokies had were on the offensive end. Chris Clarke used his impressive athleticism to grab 11 boards, leading the team. LeDay came close to repeating his double-double performance with 9 rebounds, and led the Hokies with 5 offensive boards.

Outside of second chance points, the Hokies didn’t have too much working for them on the offensive end. The ball was stagnant for much of the night, and turnovers led to easy buckets in transition for the Gamecocks. The freshmen, however, were intent on taking the ball to the rim. Justin Robinson and Chris Clarke combined to take nearly half of the Hokies’ free throw attempts. Both showed their athletic talents, weaving through defenders and altering their shots mid-air.

Other observations:

  • I wasn’t sure why Buzz gave his freshmen big minutes at first, but now it is apparent why. They are straight up talented. If they keep their strong play up, this will be a deep squad when ACC games roll around.
  • Zach LeDay is the surprise of the season…albeit after just two games. He was tremendous down low, and added a couple of clutch, tough baskets in the waning minutes of the game.
  • Another big man, Johnny Hamilton, also impressed. The 7-footer was impactful in the paint, blocking a shot on the defensive end and getting an and-one in the first half in traffic.
  • Free throw shooting looks like it might be a huge problem for the team. They shot a measly 50% from the line. That is one of the easiest ways to lose a game. And it’s not just one specific person, it’s the entire team.
  • The first ten minutes of the game was worrisome on the defensive end, letting the Gamecocks get wide open looks, but the Hokies settled down and then locked down. They allowed just 42 points in the final 30 minutes of the game, and they just looked mentally sharper. Hopefully this defensive performance is a momentum booster for this team, as they look to gain more and more experience.