BLACKSBURG, VA—The No. 15 Virginia Tech Hokies opened the 2018-19 college basketball season with an 87-59 win over Gardner-Webb at Cassell Coliseum on Friday night. Freshman Isaiah Wilkins—more on him later—paced the Hokies with 21 points as he shot 7 of 10 from the field, including 5 for 7 from three-point range.
Sophomore Nickeil Alexander-Walker also scored 21 points and chipped in six rebounds, five assists and four steals. It’s that all-around type of performance that make Alexander-Walker such a prodigious recruit just one year ago.
Three more Hokies scored in double figures as Kerry Blackshear scored 14 and Ahmed Hill and Justin Robinson both scored 11 points apiece.
Despite the score, this game was close up until the first television timeout in the second half. The Hokies only led 47-43 at that point. However, after TV timeout the Hokies came out scorching hot, going on a 24-3 run and outscored the Bulldogs 40-16 in the game’s final 16 minutes en route to a blowout victory.
After the game, head coach Buzz Williams shared his displeasure about his team’s play but offered high praise for Wilkins, per hokiesports.com.
I think the best thing about Isaiah Wilkins so far is that he only does what he can do, he doesn’t veer out of his lane too much and he bailed us out in the first half at Liberty for sure. He’s smart and he has a feel for how to play, and I think those two things coupled together allow him to stay in his lane, and in many respects, I thought he saved us tonight.
Wilkins, a 6’4” freshman out of Winston-Salem, N.C., was expected to redshirt as late as a week ago, however, Chris Clarke’s suspension/dismissal certainly changed things for Wilkins and that decision could pay big-time for Williams and the Hokies.
Williams was also asked about freshman Landers Nolley and refused to get into the details of the situation but clearly showed his frustration with the NCAA regarding the situation. The Hokies will need Nolley as the schedule toughens.
Tech takes the court again on Thursday in the Charleston Classic as it faces Ball State with an 11:30 AM ET opening tip. Other teams in the Charleston Classic are Purdue, Wichita State, Alabama, Davidson, Northeastern and Appalachian State.