LIVE from March Madness in San Jose: Virginia Tech Advances to the Sweet 16
Written by Sam Pasco on March 25, 2019
Live from San Jose in the press box, I had an opportunity to report on the #4 seed Virginia Tech vs #12 seed Liberty game in the SAP center. Here’s some perspective on the game.
Preview/Content: Historically, Virginia Tech is 14-3 all time vs Liberty, but VT has never faced the Flames in the postseason. Virginia Tech’s win against Saint Louis (66 to 52) in the first round on Friday was the first VT’s first NCAA tournament win W since 2007 when they took down Illinois. Also note that these two teams actually faced off in an exhibition game back in November, with Virginia Tech winning 86 to 70.
First Half: Throughout the first half, both teams seemed fairly well matched. There wasn’t too much scoring from either sides, but it was Liberty who had the edge: Liberty held their largest lead (8) of the game when a timeout was called with 4:25 left in the half. Virginia Tech put on a mini-comeback of sorts, but ended the half down 32 to 29.
– The leading scorer at halftime for Liberty was Darius McGhee, who didn’t start, but ended up playing 14 minutes and shooting all 3’s (and was 4-7 on them)
– Ty Outlaw of Virginia Tech had a rough first half: he had as many points as personal fouls (2), went 0-3 from the 3 point line and had 1 turnover. Note that out of 16 rebounds Tech had in the first half, Outlaw had 4 of them (all defensive).
– VT dominated LIB in Points in the Paint (12-4), 2nd Chance points (7-0) and Fast Break points (4-0), but the biggest difference was Liberty’s bench points (LIB outscored VT 18 to 6).
Neither side jumped out to a big lead at the beginning of the second half: both teams were tied at 44 with 13:52 to left in the second half. This was somewhat surprising as this is a Virginia Tech program that’s beaten a nationally ranked Duke team in 3 of the past four years, with the most recent coming this year back in February when Tech won 77-72, so being tied with Liberty this late was somewhat surprising.
But as soon as the scored was tied, VT went on a 10 minute, 15-6 run which basically put the game away. While the score remained fairly close for the rest of the way – the biggest lead for VT was only 9 points, it never felt like a big comeback was in store for Liberty, as the better team (Virginia Tech) just took over.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 100, how excited are you guys about heading to the Sweet Sixteen?
“500” – Ahmed Hill
“There’s not a number for that. It’s crazy, Just excited to be there” – Kerry Blackshear Jr.
Note that every Liberty player who played had a negative +/-, while only 2 of Virginia Tech players has a negative +/-