Virginia Tech gets by VMI 87-74
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Virginia Tech has finished in last place in the ACC standings each of the past three years, but heading into a holiday break this season, the Hokies find themselves three games above .500.
But new coach Buzz Williams isn't about to let his team feel good about itself.
''I'm really, really disappointed,'' he said. ''We should have lost once.''
Williams had little to complain about following his team's performance Monday night against VMI.
Justin Bibbs scored a career-high 20 points to lift the Hokies to an 87-74 victory over their in-state counterparts.
Bibbs connected on 6 of 10 shots from the floor for the Hokies (7-4), who shot 53.2 percent (33 of 62) for the game. The win marked the third straight for Tech following a disappointing 68-66 loss to Big South foe Radford at home on Dec. 7.
Devin Wilson added 16 points for the Hokies and Jalen Hudson had 12 on a night in which Virginia Tech scored the most points it has all season and led for the final 39 minutes of the game.
The Hokies were up by as many as 26 in the second half, but VMI (5-7) cut the lead to 79-70 on a basket by QJ Peterson with 2:33 remaining. Virginia Tech got two free throws from Bibbs and two from Wilson to push the lead to 83-70, and the Keydets got no closer the rest of the way.
Bibbs connected on 8 of 10 free throws for the game and grabbed four rebounds in 34 minutes.
''I just wanted to get to the rim. That was the key to the game,'' Bibbs said. ''We had to beat their pressure and keep attacking. That was in my head. Once we beat the press, we just kept attacking. That's how I got my points.''
The Hokies, who came into the game shooting 57.1 percent from the free throw line, hit 70.8 percent (17 of 24) against the Keydets.
Tim Marshall led VMI with 18 points, while Peterson finished with 14. The Keydets shot just 32.9 percent (23 of 70) from the floor.
VMI scored the first basket of the game on a Marshall layup, but the Hokies answered with an 18-2 run and never trailed again. Five different players scored during the run, with Adam Smith's six points leading the way.
The Hokies shot 66.7 percent (20 of 30) in the first half, while the Keydets struggled, hitting just 7 of 28. VMI made just two of its first 12 shots from the floor.
Several of Virginia Tech's shots came on run-outs, as the Hokies had seven dunks in the first 20 minutes.
''We just turned the ball over way too much,'' VMI coach Duggar Baucom said. ''We had 11 turnovers in the first half and four the second half. People will say stuff about our defense, but we have no defense for 18 points in run-outs. We couldn't handle the ball. We couldn't get shots off.''
Virginia Tech ended the first half with a 10-1 run and took a 51-27 lead at halftime on Wilson's 3-pointer at the buzzer. Wilson had two 3-pointers in the run.
Wilson, back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench the previous two games, made 4 of 6 from the floor and 6 of 7 from the free throw line.
Smith, Tech's leading scorer coming into the game at 12.5 per game, had 10 points.
VMI: QJ Peterson hit just one of his first eight shots from the floor and was 4 of 18 for the game. He came into the game averaging 21.4 points per game. . Phillip Anglade blocked six shots for the Keydets. . The Keydets were shooting 34.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc coming into the game, but made just 25.6 percent on 10 of 39 attempts.
Virginia Tech: Freshman Jalen Hudson scored a career-high in the first half. His 10 points in the first 20 minutes surpassed his previous career-high of eight, which came in Virginia Tech's win over The Citadel. . Shane Henry grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and tied a career-high with six points. . The Hokies have won four straight over the Keydets. . Virginia Tech ranked 341st nationally in free-throw percentage coming into the game.
VMI plays George Washington on Dec. 30.
Virginia Tech hosts Presbyterian on Saturday.