Thanks to Seth Allen, the Hokies sit at 8-7 in the conference standings with a chance to win their ninth game this afternoon against Boston College. The last time these two teams met, the Hokies pulled out an 85-79 win in Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Tech held a double digit lead in the second half but Boston College was able to make it a game due to a great shooting performance by Jordan Chatman. With a win, the Hokies will be able to ensure that they finish with a record of .500 in the most competitive conference in the country.
Since the last game between the Hokies and Eagles, the two teams have been trending in different directions. Boston College has lost 11 straight, and their last game was a 32-point loss to Florida State in Tallahassee. The Hokies have been much better since their week off, winning three of their last four. Every game has been close, however. The average margin in those games was just 2.5 points. On the road, the Hokies will likely have to battle for a win.
Virginia Tech needs to win this game more than you would think. Losing to Boston College may prove to be detrimental to their tournament hopes as their RPI would drop due to a loss to an inferior team. The Hokies will also want a win in the ACC tournament to solidify a bid, and finishing as high in the conference standings as possible would help achieve that goal. If the tournament started this morning, the Hokies would be slated to play Virginia. Despite the ‘Hoos four game slide, they are not a good matchup at all for Virginia Tech.
What went right?
The Hokies have been on fire from the perimeter over the last three games, but one of their best shooting performances of the season was against Boston College. They knocked down 12-of-18 from behind the arc, led by Justin Bibbs who made 80% of his three-point attempts on his way to an 18 point performance. Six Hokies had at least one three-point basket to their name. Ty Outlaw, who has been lights out in place of Chris Clarke – on the offensive end, at least – went 3-4 from deep against the Eagles in just 12 minutes of action.
Virginia Tech also did a fantastic job getting to the free throw line when their shot was not falling. They were in the bonus and attempted 30 free throws, tied for the second highest total for the Hokies this season. Since Virginia Tech only has seven players in the consistent rotation, players need as much rest as possible, and free throws are one way to gain extra rest. Boston College has good, but not great size. The Hokies have the talent to get to the basket and the free throw line once more.
What went wrong?
The Hokies were hot from downtown, but sophomore Jordan Chatman was even hotter. Chatman hit his first nine deep attempts (a Cassell Coliseum record) en route to an impressive 30-point outing. The crowd was louder when he missed his first shot than they were when the Hokies ended up winning the game. Ky Bowman (Cheeto Head), started off poorly but got his game going in the second half, finishing up with 17 points and 10 boards. He was the main catalyst for the Eagles in their second half comeback charge.
In conference play, the Hokies own the highest 3P% (40.3%) in the ACC. It’s a great stat, but on the other side they cannot defend the three ball to save their life. They rank 14th in the conference, allowing teams to shoot over 41% from behind the arc. Virginia Tech will get pounded on the glass due to their lack of size, which is understandable. However, allowing teams to shoot well from three is something they cannot afford. It puts an incredible amount of pressure on the team to perform on the offensive end.
Closing teams out has been a problem recently, as the Hokies let Pittsburgh and Clemson hang around late in games to make the win harder to earn. Virginia Tech had an 18-point lead against Boston College in the first meeting, but the Eagles cut the lead down to one in the second half. Against Clemson, the Hokies held a 60-53 lead with just a few minutes left but let the Tigers take a late lead. In the end, it did not matter due to Seth Allen’s heroics. It is certainly encouraging that the team knows how to battle in tight games. But when there is an opportunity to close a team out, they have to take it.
If the Hokies continue to play the way they have over the last four games, they should win this game. They are making their shots and competing on the glass, which is all you can ask for at this point. Boston College is desperate to stop their slide, but they will need another fantastic shooting performance and I do not think Chatman or Jerome Robinson can replicate that. It will not be an easy game, however. I do expect a lot of fight from both teams. Ultimately, the Hokies’ experience in tight games should help them win this one.
Virginia Tech 77-71.