Robinson, Alexander-Walker spark Virginia Tech’s blowout win
ATLANTA (AP) — Virginia Tech coach Buzz Wiliams loves how his team has changed its approach to scouting opponents on the road.
He can only hope it keeps up. The Hokies, at 5-3, have a single-season high in ACC road wins for the first time since joining the league in 2004-05.
“I think they’ve been very disciplined in how they’ve executed it,” Williams said. “Over the last three games it’s just kind of continued to morph and grow and develop. I think it’s a credit to our staff and our kids.”
Justin Robinson scored 18 points, Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 14 and Virginia Tech blew out reeling Georgia Tech 76-56 on Saturday.
Williams rested his starters for most of the second half as the Hokies (19-8, 8-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) dominated both ends of the floor. It was a welcome sight following two tough road games — a stunning upset win at Virginia last weekend and a plodding loss at Duke three nights ago.
Virginia Tech led by 14 at intermission but outscored the Yellow Jackets 21-3 to begin the second half and later led by 35 on P.J. Horne’s jumper with 8:37 remaining.
Georgia Tech (11-16, 4-10) has lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall into 13th place in the 15-team ACC. Tadric Jackson scored 17 points and Josh Okogie had 10 for the Jackets, but they weren’t easy points as the two star guards missed a combined 23 of 31 shots from the field
The game was essentially decided in the first 20 minutes. Virginia Tech, ranked fifth nationally in field-goal percentage, did whatever it pleased against the Jackets’ zone defense, assisting on 14 of 16 baskets before halftime and burying Georgia Tech’s offense after it jumped out to a six-point lead in the first 4 minutes.
“The first 30 minutes of the game, I thought we shared it as well as since we’ve been here,” said Williams, in his fourth season with the Hokies. “I’m thankful that those other guys got the minutes they got because down the stretch it will be really important.”
Virginia Tech: Robinson is already looking ahead to a three-game homestand, and he hopes the fans will be at full capacity against Clemson, Louisville and Duke. “We have to protect our home court,” he said. “We have to build off that.”
Georgia Tech: Jackson hit his first five shots but missed 11 of his last 12. He was mostly bothered by the team’s poor defense, including his own. The Jackets’ long list of injuries hasn’t helped. “We’ve got to get better in practice every day,” Jackson said. “The guys that got hurt — we can’t do nothing about that. That’s life. It happens. As a whole we have to get better.”
After a dramatic overtime performance that snapped Virginia’s 15-game winning streak last weekend, the Hokies followed up with a 22-point setback at Duke, but they showed no lingering effects and mostly took a breather against Georgia Tech.
Williams is accustomed to using 10 players in most games — eight players began the day averaging at least 10 minutes a game — and he got to play his reserves for most of the second half. Even better, the two starters to play the longest, Justin Bibbs and Kerry Blackshear, were done after 24 minutes.
SEASON DOWN THE TUBES
It’s not getting any easier for the Jackets, who have been consumed by injuries, suspensions and off-the-court civil allegations involving second-year coach Josh Pastner and a former friend.
Point guard Jose Alvarado was lost to a season-ending elbow injury last Sunday against Duke. Freshman guard Curtis Haywood was lost to a season-ending shin injury late last month. Ben Lammers emerged as a standout ACC center last season, but he’s playing on a tender ankle that has clearly limited his range.
Georgia Tech trailed by 19 early in the second half when Lammers went to the bench for a break. He soon came back in and hit a runner, but the lead stood at 24.
“Obviously we’ve had just other things to deal with, but more than that the injury bug has really, really hurt us,” Pastner said. “If I had to do it over again, I probably should’ve sat Ben for two or three weeks when he injured his ankle and let him get fairly healthy.”
Virginia Tech: Hosts No. 11 Clemson on Wednesday.
Georgia Tech: Visits No. 1 Virginia on Wednesday.
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