The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will look to extend its home winning streak to three, as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets come to town, trying to shed the dubious label of dead last in the ACC.
The Yellow Jackets (9-16, 2-9 ACC) are on a terrible skid — they have lost eight of nine and 12 of 14, with their last win coming against fellow ACC bottom dweller Boston College.
One of the only bright spots for the Jackets this season has been small forward Glenn Rice Jr., who leads the team in points per game with 13 and rebounds per game with 6.7.
Despite Rice’s efforts, the Jackets have struggled and are in need of additional help on offense, as point guard Mfon Udofia seems to be their only other significant contributor, averaging 10 points per game and leading the team in assists.
The combined offensive efforts of Rice and Udofia, along with the remainder of the Yellow Jackets squad, have them ranked 301st overall in points per game and 307th in the nation in assists.
With such flat offensive production, the Yellow Jackets could be in for a rough night since the Hokies (14-11, 3-7 ACC) are consistent on defense, ranking 53rd overall in points allowed per game and yielding 62.2 to opponents.
The Hokies will need to clamp down on defense — as they did against Clemson and BC — forcing the Yellow Jackets into offensive mistakes and turnovers to give themselves more opportunities to fire up their offense.
Some of that offensive firepower could come in the form of freshman Dorian Finney-Smith, who had an outstanding game against BC, grabbing eight rebounds and scoring 17 points, including the game winner with 1.8 seconds remaining.
In what was most likely his best game of the year, Finney-Smith showed a preview of what may be his future with the team. Finney-Smith can make an impact for the Hokies against the Yellow Jackets by having another large showing in the paint, where he dominated BC with put-backs and rebounds.
Finney-Smith was not alone in his strong showing around the basket as senior Victor Davila, sophomore Cadarian Raines and freshman C.J. Barksdale joined him in outscoring the Eagles 38-28.
The Hokies will look to do more of the same to the Yellow Jackets, who seem to be struggling in all areas.
But sometimes switching it up is the key to success.
Head coach Seth Greenberg is not afraid to shake things up when it comes to Tech’s lineup, giving Barksdale his first start this season against BC and reinserting Hudson on the front lines.
Things will continue to shift this week due to Barksdale’s sprained ankle — an injury leaving his playing ability questionable, as he has been walking in a boot. Hudson, on the other hand, had a solid game with 11 points and will look to hold on to his spot in the starting lineup.
The good news is the Hokies are starting to see multiple players break the double-digit scoring barrier that has seemingly only belonged to Erick Green all season. Green has struggled lately, but his double-digit scoring streak this season continues, as he extended it to 26 games with 10 points against BC.
Although the Hokies may be seeing an upward trend in certain areas of the offense, they have started a new downward trend in free-throw shooting to go with it.
The Hokies have done well all season from the line, shooting around 75 percent, but recently dropped off, shooting 67 percent against Miami and 60 percent against BC. Tech is a team that cannot afford to miss opportunities for free points as its fledgling offense continues to grow and mature.
With only five games remaining in the regular season, the Hokies will be looking to keep the Yellow Jackets on the bottom of the ACC, while putting a little distance between themselves and dead last. Considering Georgia Tech does not bring much to the table — at least nothing more than Clemson or BC — this is a game the Hokies should win at home in front of a blackout crowd.
Tip-off is tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum.