Following an exciting 116-108 double overtime win against Duquesne Wednesday, Virginia Tech hopes there’s still gas in the tank as they host another talented group in the Baylor Bears Saturday at 11 AM.
No. 3 Baylor (21-14, 5-11 Big 12)
Baylor is coming off an historic 74-72 win over Georgetown in the first round of the NIT. The win marks the Bears first postseason victory in 59 years.
The crew from Waco, TX has five players of averaged double figure scoring this season. The Bears like to play at a face pace and really push the ball up court quickly, similar in some ways to the style of play employed by North Carolina.
The group of Baylor scorers is led by guard Curtis Jerrells who is the trigger-man for the Bears attack. The senior averaged 16.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.7 APG and nearly two steals per contest. Jerrells has scored in double figures in all but 4 games this season and will look to do it again on Saturday.
The next two top scoring guards for Baylor are both equally suited to shoot the basketball, and make up two fifths of an all-name team.
Guards LaceDarius Dunn (15.5 PPG, 4.5 REB) and Tweety Carter (10.6 PPG, 3.1 APG) are both capable of stepping aside to let Jerrells carry the load, or exploding for a big night themselves.
Dunn scored 33 earlier this season at Kansas State and Carter had 30 points in a mach up with Oklahoma State.
Down low, the Bears are led by senior forward Kevin Rogers (12.4 PPG, 7.5 REB). At 6-9, Rogers will likely see a combination of Cheick Diakate and J.T. Thompson. Diakite didn’t play against Duquesne as the Hokies were forced to go with a smaller lineup against the Dukes guards.
No. 2 Virginia Tech (19-14, 7-9 ACC)
The Hokies got career nights from sophomore cousins J.T. Thompson and Dorenzo Hudson last time out. Both scored career highs in points with 21 and 15 respectively.
All five Tech starters scored in double figures and were once again led by senior A.D. Vassallo.
Vassallo scored 33 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and added 5 assists and 3 blocks. He now sits in fifth place on Virginia Tech’s all-time scoring list.
Sophomore Jeff Allen was also dominant against the smaller Dukes posting a double-double of his own with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Malcolm Delaney just missed a similar feat with 20 points and 9 assists. In his last two games, Delaney has 19 assists. He’s playing within the offense and letting things come to him. He’s playing at a very high level right now.
The Hokies will be able to go with their more conventional lineup in this one, but after his impressive play of late, J.T. Thompson may well start his second consecutive game in place of Cheick Diakite.
Tech will look for similar scoring balance in this one to ease the burden on the “big three” of Vassallo, Delaney, and Allen.
When the Hokies play an opponent that likes to push the ball up court quickly, they like to try and dictate the pace of the game and keep things to their liking.
Look for Tech to be deliberate on offense. They’ll certainly score quickly in transition when the opportunity presents itself, but they’ll slow things down as much as possible.
Duquesne was a very good team, but Baylor is at a higher level. Don’t let their bad conference record fool you, of the Bears five Big 12 wins, three were over Texas, Kansas and Texas A& M, all teams that made the NCAA Tournament.
This game should be yet another close one which will come as no surprise to Hokie basketball fans.
Tech always has an advantage playing at home and that advantage may be even bigger in this one. The 11 AM start will feel like a 9 AM tip-off for the Bears who travel to Blacksburg from the central time zone.
Virginia Tech 80