As they say, the Hokies are Still Dancin’! There were some moments where it looked like the dominant 1st half of the contest would go to complete waste. The Hokies were favored by 11 and beat that by 3. The Saint Louis Billikens ended up challenging the Hokies in the 2nd half, but Tech started building some defensive momentum again, and scored enough points in the 3rd quarter to start building up a bit of a cushion going into the critical final two minutes. The 40 to 18 “Total Hokie” first half flipped to a 34 to 26 Billiken 2nd, but that first half proved to be a back breaker.
The Hokies led in every category on the boards except for “boards”. Saint Louis grabbed 36 defensive and 11 offensive rebounds. Thankfully neither statistic wins ball games. Tech got the ball back when it needed to, and even managed to push the turnover button on Saint Louis 7 more times. Hokies shot 41.7 percent from the floor, pushed 4 out of 10 3 pointers (that’s a low 3 point attempt number for the Gobblers, but the 12 points would prove to be a a part of the difference between the two end scores. Where Tech really shined is in nabbing 12 more points from the charity stripe than Saint Louis. They are not a good foul shooting team and this game’s 62.5% definitely made a serious difference. The Hokies drained 81.5% of the 27 foul shots. Though everyone would like to see more, That’s pretty solid. You have also noted by doing some addition that the 3’s and the foul shots are the bulk of the difference in the score.
If Saint Louis could have had a better 3 point showing, by just a hair, and added in a decent percentage of foul shots, the Hokies would have been in serious trouble.
As it was, Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s 20 points and Kerry Blackshear Jr.’s 15 provided a huge chunk of the Tech offense. Ty Outlaw played solid minutes with 7 points added in the mix. There was a solid contribution from everyone, however. Of note, Justin Robinson got some quality minutes on the floor. He flicked off some nice passes, and did solid comeback work; though a bit limited by rust, he provided a real spark for the team, especially in the first half. That’s good because the Billikens were a dangerous team; not team in the Dance should be taken lightly.
And the next team not to take lightly are our friends and Virginia family from Lynchburg, Liberty University who stunned Mississippi State to advance to take us on in the Round of 32. Josh Warner is going to preview that game, but folks the Hokies are going to have to spend some serious effort to avoid the 3rd quarter fades. Liberty will make us pay if we ‘fade’ again Sunday.