Clarke’s double-double leads Virginia Tech over UMBC 87-70
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Chris Clarke had 22 points and 12 rebounds, leading Virginia Tech to an 87-70 victory over Maryland-Baltimore County on Wednesday night.
Ahmed Hill added 18, Seth Allen chipped in with 17 and Zach LeDay had 14 for the Hokies (11-1). UMBC (9-4) made a game of it early in the first half before ice cold shooting (25 percent, 9-36 at the break) left them down 40-27.
“We like to move the ball and find good shots,” said Clarke, who added after the game that the Tech defense “still needs some work.”
Virginia Tech pulled away in the second half, hitting six 3-point shots after the break to help pad that lead before UMBC made a late run. The Hokies finished with 11 3-pointers.
“I think they’re ready (for conference play),” Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams said of his team after the game. “I think most teams at this time of the year are anxious to finish nonconference and get going.”
Jairus Lyles led UMBC with 21 points. The Retrievers shot just 36 percent overall compared to 49 percent for the Hokies.
“They’re a good athletic team,” said UMBC head coach Ryan Odom. “They have big athletic wings . and several point guards that can pressure the ball. Inside. they make it tough to score around the rim.”
Virginia Tech was able to give its bench players some floor time and they contributed 33 points.
“We have Seth and Zach coming off the bench,” noted Clarke. “That’s like having two starters on the bench.”
Tech improved to 2-0 against UMBC — the Hokies pummeled the Retrievers 71-34 in December 2009. The Hokies are 6-0 all-time against America East Conference opponents.
“We have a lot of work to do to have a chance to compete (in the ACC),” cautioned Williams.
UMBC: Head coach Ryan Odom knows Blacksburg very well, having spent seven seasons as an assistant under former Tech head coach Seth Greenberg. This is the first season as Retrievers head coach for the son of former Wake Forest head coach Dave Odom.
“We love this place, my family and I,” said Odom, “it was a great seven years for us. We had a great time.”
Virginia Tech: Now comes the hard part. After breezing through the nonconference schedule with an 11-1 record, the Hokies open their ACC schedule against No. 5 Duke on Saturday, albeit in the more friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum, instead of on the road at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.
Williams said afterward, “It will take a monumental effort for us to have a chance on Saturday.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Chris Clarke’s double-double was his second straight — the 6-6 guard had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the previous game against Charleston Southern. In the contest before that he took it one step further — recording a triple-double (13 points, 12 boards and a career-high 10 assists) against The Citadel.
UMBC doesn’t play its first America East Conference game until Jan. 5 against Binghamton; Wednesday’s tilt was the second AEC school Virginia Tech has played this season. The Hokies beat Maine in their opener 80-67.
Tech visits the Blue Devils on Saturday, and then plays its next two ACC games on the road at North Carolina State on Wednesday and at No. 20 Florida State on Jan. 7. The Hokies are home again against Syracuse on Jan. 10 to begin a three-game home stand.