The Hokies can breathe a sigh of relief after staving off a late Clemson rally and winning their 5th ACC game this season 60-57. For Buzz Williams' side, it was more stressful than it should have been. The Hokies were up 12 at one point, but the Tigers took the lead with 2:44 left in the game. Freshman Kerry Blackshear made two tough layups to give the Hokies the lead, including an and-one which he converted. LeDay led the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds, notching his first double-double since December 22nd.
1. Free throw shooting was excellent once again for the Hokies. They shot 14-16 (.875) at the line while the Tigers shot 10-16 (.625). They shot the same amount of free throws and the Hokies made four more. What was the final margin of victory?
2. Jalen Hudson should get an award for being the "splash player" on the team. He made a big-time contested three as the shot clock was running down. It took him a few tries (a few too many) but he finally got his big posterizing finish in the second half:
Stuck the landing too.
3. Although the Hokies have athletic finishers like Hudson, they've gotten their shots blocked 119 times, the most in the nation. In conference play, Virginia Tech's been blocked 61 times, the most in the ACC. On Saturday, Clemson blocked 18% of the Hokies' shot attempts. That's nearly 1-in-5 of shots being swatted away and leading to transition opportunities. A lot of those blocks happened on putback attempts, so if the Hokies can be smarter and pull the ball out in a crowded area, they should be much better in that regard.
4. Turnovers have been an issue in the Hokies' five game losing skid, but they weren't tonight. Virginia Tech turned the ball over just 8 times, which certainly helped them pull away in the second half. They forced a lot of poor decisions from the Tigers and didn't make too many poor decisions of their own. Although that number is lower due to the relatively slow pace the game was played at, the Hokies were noticeably smarter with the basketball and didn't take unnecessary risks. They looked more calculated with their moves, which is what good teams do.
5. It was a sold out game, and although the Cassell wasn't as loud as it was against UNC, it was still a much-improved atmosphere from previous years or even earlier this season. The Hokies definitely played with more energy and relentlessness on defense, and the crowd got louder and louder with every great defensive stop. Buzz noticed it and pointed it out in his presser:
Virginia Tech won't have much time to enjoy this win. They'll face an eager UVA team on Tuesday hungry for revenge in their own building. But the Hokies can certainly feel good about going into that game on a positive note.