Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics
There comes a time where a team that’s overmatched from a physicality standpoint just runs out of gas.
Unfortunately for Virginia Tech (5-1), that’s what happened on Wednesday evening in its 69-61 loss to No. 9 Memphis. 37 minutes of back-and-forth basketball, but to no avail with a dormant final 180 seconds.
The good news for head coach Mike Young and company? No. 25 Xavier (4-1) immediately awaits. The Musketeers give Virginia Tech another opportunity to pick off a ranked foe in Brooklyn, and another chance to properly kickstart a gauntlet-like month-long stretch.
Game Day Information
When: Friday, Nov. 26, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
PXP: Rich Hollenberg
Analyst: Fran Fraschilla
Series History: Xavier Leads 9-4
Last Meeting: Xavier Won 63-62 on Nov. 21, 2008
Line: Virginia Tech -3
Lots To Be Encouraged About, But Room To Grow
There was a lot to like when picking apart the Hokies’ loss to Memphis on Wednesday evening. The first is, oddly enough, that Virginia Tech didn’t exactly play well.
You can see where this Virginia Tech team has a shot to be dangerous. However, 34%, 33% from three, and turning the ball over 13 times certainly won’t cut it. That’s what led the Hokies’ downfall against the Tigers.
Virginia Tech also failed to get solid point guard play, looked uncomfortable down low, and felt out of sync all night long.
Despite an uncharacteristically sloppy game offensively for Young’s team, this game still went wire-to-wire the whole 40 minutes. The Hokies had the lead with just over four minutes left, and they defended extremely well once again, holding Memphis to just a 39% clip from the field.
No, it’s not a moral victory, but the fact that Virginia Tech had a chance to win against a potential Final Four team despite everything that didn’t fall its way, can’t help but get fans excited.
Nahiem Alleyne’s 21 points led the way for the maroon and orange in the loss. Keve Aluma recorded his first double-double of the season, totaling 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Wednesday didn’t go Virginia Tech’s way, but can the Hokies respond against their second straight ranked opponent? It’s a must in order to escape the NIT Season Tip-Off with at least a victory.
The (No.) Three Musketeers
The Xavier Musketeers came into the 2021-22 campaign with strong expectations after being picked third in the Big East preseason poll.
They certainly don’t want to leave Brooklyn with the embarrassment of two losses either, especially after getting upset by Iowa State two nights ago.
It’s a talented roster in Cincinnati for fourth-year head coach Travis Steele. He was a longtime assistant at Xavier before taking the reins in 2018.
It all starts up top with star guard Paul Scruggs. The senior from Indianapolis has averaged double figures in each of the last three seasons and is off to a hot start this year by averaging 13.2 points per game just five games in.
He’ll be helped out down low by Jack Lunge, who averages 12.6 points per game and by fellow guard Colby Jones. Jones is miraculously averaging a double-double with almost 13 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
It’s a team that can absolutely make a run to win the Big East, but it’s also a very beatable team that gives the Hokies a good shot at to pick up a solid quadrant 1 victory.
After watching Wednesday evening, it just feels like Virginia Tech is going to put a complete game together and secure a feel-good victory at the Barclays Center on Black Friday.
Xavier has a tendency to turn the ball over. The Hokies can take advantage. They’ll ride that and a bounce-back shooting performance to an eye-opening win in Brooklyn.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 78, (25) Xavier 69