The Virginia Tech Hokies hosted the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon, who were without former five-star recruit Bruce Brown. However, it certainly did not feel like the Canes were missing an important piece of their roster. Miami, who found themselves down 7-2 early, responded in convincing fashion, taking a 29-15 lead with 9:42 left in the first half. The Hokies simply could not get any stops whatsoever, allowing Miami to shoot 58.6 percent from the floor and 67 percent from three in the first half.
Hokies’ big man Kerry Blackshear has been an integral part to this team’s recent success, but today coach Buzz Williams gave PJ Horne the majority of the minutes in the paint. Blackshear seemed fine on the bench, so we can only speculate why Buzz kept him there. Horne actually played very well, giving the Hokies energy and hustle that they were lacking prior to him entering the contest. He finished with 8 points and led the team with 7 rebounds.
After a poor defensive performance in the first half, the Hokies started to hone in and fix their mistakes on that side of the floor. In the second half, Miami only shot 42.9 percent from the floor an 33.3 percent from three. Justin Bibbs and Justin Robinson kickstarted a Hokies run that cut the lead from 15 to just 3 with 3:42 remaining. However, Miami’s Anthony Lawrence carried to ‘Canes offense late in the game, hitting some tough midrange pull-ups and contested threes. Lawrence finished the game shooting an incredible 9-of-10 from the floor and was perfect from behind the arc.
Virginia Tech once more got a good performance from point guard Justin Robinson. The junior finished with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but it was simply not enough. Nickeil had 12 points in the first half, but just 3 in the second. Ahmed Hill struggled shooting throughout, failing to convert on any of his 6 field goal attempts.
The Hokies failed to close out possessions as well. There were at least five or six possessions where Miami was able to make a basket as the shot clock was winding down. Good teams tend to thrive in those moments, and Virginia Tech could not do so today.
This was not a good loss (no loss really is) in terms of the tournament picture. The Hokies are now back to .500 in ACC play, and the schedule is daunting over the next few weeks. Tech plays host to NC State on Wednesday, who shellacked Notre Dame today in Matt Farrell’s first game back from injury.