Texas A&M beats Virginia Tech in Wooden Legacy semifinal
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — DJ Hogg scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to lead Texas A&M to a 68-65 win over Virginia Tech in a Wooden Legacy semifinal on Friday.
Texas A&M (4-1) will play in the tournament championship while Virginia Tech (4-1) plays in the third-place game. Both games are Sunday in Anaheim.
Hogg also grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, and scored the final five points for the Aggies.
Texas A&M coach Bill Kennedy was impressed with his team’s defensive performance as it held Virginia Tech to 65 points, 27 points less than it scored a day earlier against New Mexico.
“I thought the first half was a track meet. The second half was more of a halfcourt game,” Kennedy said. “That was the biggest key for us. One of our goals was to keep them to 65 points or less.”
Ahmed Hill had 18 points for Virginia Tech. Justin Robinson missed his first four shots but made his final two attempts of the first half and finished with 14 points.
Seven players scored for Virginia Tech in the first half as it ran out to a 38-25 halftime lead. The Aggies made eight consecutive shots to pull to 57-54, and later cut the lead to 63-61 on a layup by Admon Gilder.
“We just didn’t close it out,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “Their offensive execution and offensive rebounding really hurt us. They missed 35 shots and got 15 of them back. We weren’t able to finish possessions.”
Virginia Tech will need to work on its defense down the stretch and playing well with a lead. The Hokies led by as many as 17 points in the second half but couldn’t hang on to the lead.
Texas A&M should feel good about rallying from a 13-point halftime deficit. It will have another stiff test with either UCLA or Nebraska in the final, which should help its cause before Southeastern Conference play.
HE SAID IT
The Aggies lost to Southern California in College Station on Nov. 18, and Ahmed Gilder said the team learned from it. “That was probably the best thing for us,” Ahmed Gilder said, “We had a great practice after that loss.”
After making just 1 of 10 shots from 3-point range in the first half, the Aggies found their groove and made 4 of 9 3-pointers in the second half. Texas A&M scored on eight consecutive possessions to pull within three points at 57-54. That stretch got the Aggies back in it, and it was a close game the rest of the way.
Virginia Tech will play in the third-place game on Sunday, but that figures to be a difficult test, too, with either Nebraska or UCLA. A lot will be learned about the Hokies in how they move on after their first loss of the season.
Texas A&M is a surprise contender for the Wooden Legacy tournament title, but it can go a long way in establishing confidence with another victory on Sunday. The Aggies have played well since losing to Southern California 65-63.