Free Throws Kill Hokies’ Chance At Upset Against Duke

Posted: February 25, 2012 in Men's Basketball

Virginia Tech dropped a huge game today at Cameron Indoor Stadium in maybe the most heartbreaking way possible.

Free-throws.  It seems to always come down to free-throws.

The Hokies shot 43.8 percent from the free-throw line which translates into 7-16 in the game.  More specifically, Doe-Doe got to the line eight times during regulation and made just one free-throw.

Those are all very damning numbers.  Those numbers are made even worse when you consider that Virginia Tech took Duke into overtime. The score at the end of regulation was 58-58 and the final score was 70-65.

Free-throws make the difference.

It’s been that way lately for the Hokies, hasn’t it?  Virginia Tech missed free-throws down the stretch against UVA.  They couldn’t make any in the late collapse against FSU. Tech shot only 60% against Boston College.

Every game that Tech has played recently has been close.  Five points was the deficit today against Duke and that happens to be the biggest point differential in the Hokies’ last five games.  That’s a pretty telling stat.

It’s telling in a good way, though.  This team is pretty young but they’re hanging close with some good teams.  They’re playing the bad ACC teams close, which is disappointing, but at the end of the day, a win is a win for this collective group of players.

Today was a great chance for the Hokies to make a statement but at the end of the day the talent gap between Duke and Virginia Tech is just too great.

Both teams get a lot of credit for their performances today though.  Duke was coming off a road game against FSU only 36 hours ago and were clearly exhausted.  Austin Rivers, while he went off today, was visibly tired and his legs were fading quickly at the end of regulation.  Rivers hit some huge 3-pointers and made Erick Green look sloppy defensively in the first half. Rivers had a game-high 23 points for Duke. 

Speaking of Erick Green, he really had a terrible first half.  Defensively he was sloppy and on offense he couldn’t buy a basket.  Green was 0-6 shooting in the first half with a whopping zero total points.  Granted, Erick Green went off in the second half and extended his double-digit scoring streak to 30 games.  Green finished with 16 points but had he been able to get things going in the first half, there’s a good chance that Tech could have pulled off the upset.

I was incredibly impressed with the play of Cadarian Raines today against a big and very physical Duke front line.  Raines has been working his ass off in practice and it’s showing in his newly developed post game.  He’s making players get aggressive and bite on his pump-fakes while he scoops underneath them and lays the ball in.  He also seems to be taking some pages out of Davila’s skill set with the jump hook which is improving little by little.  I’m excited to see how he develops over the next two seasons.  He could be a great player for the Hokies come his senior year.  Today against the Blue Devils, Raines dropped 16 points and grabbed five rebounds.

In the end, Virginia Tech simply fought hard, period.  It’s not easy to go into Cameron Indoor Stadium and play Duke close.  It’s even harder to get them into overtime.  This team played with a lot of heart today and it’s a shame that missed free-throws and a rough first half from Erick Green cost the Hokies the game.

The Hokies fall to 15-14 on the season and 4-10 in the ACC.  Next up: Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum next Thursday at 9 PM.

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