ACC Preview: Dec. 31
Virginia Tech (10-3) at Oklahoma State (7-5), 12:00 PM, ESPN2
Virginia Tech’s offense has quietly been its calling card this season. It hasn’t always been pretty to watch the normally defensive-minded Hokies struggle through an offensive halfcourt possession, but this year’s group seems much more competent. Tech Hoops takes a look at the reasons Virginia Tech’s offense has been playing so well.
Virginia Tech beat Oklahoma State earlier this year in the Preseason NIT, 59-57. The Cowboys have been a bad offensive team this year, but they have the talent to get it going, and they don’t really have a bad loss (Stanford, Pittsburgh, New Mexico and Alabama).
It’s hard to trust the Hokies since they continually disappoint when they have a chance for a big win. And Oklahoma State’s defense is the best Virginia Tech has faced in nearly a month. Considering Oklahoma State will have revenge on their minds for the rare non-conference rematch and it will be in Stillwater, it’s probably too much to overcome fro Virginia Tech.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 61, Virginia Tech 55
Random: If you’ve always thought Oklahoma State’s “Pistol Pete” mascot had a weird head/face, you aren’t alone. But it’s because he’s meant to resemble Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton, who was a true cowboy whose whole life was like a Western movie. At eight years old, he saw his father killed by Confederate vigilantes and went on to seek revenge against them.
Samford (3-8) at Maryland (8-3), 2:00 PM, RSN
Maryland got its first double-digit win of the season last week against a pretty decent Albany team, and this team might be clicking finally. Pe’Shon Howard played in his second game of the season and though he has nine turnovers in two games, he’s shooting 67% and averaging nine points. Freshman big man Alex Len made his Maryland debut and had 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 27 minutes, adding two blocks.
Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times (he’s a Twitter must-follow, @D1scourse) wrote about new head coach Mark Turgeon finally having the “luxury of depth”. Turgeon, who was an assistant under Roy Williams at Kansas, shows some of his former boss’s irascible tendencies with this quote:
“Nick (Faust) shoots two air balls. When you have six scholarship guys, it’s like, ‘Hey, your’e all right buddy.’ He shoots two air balls when you have nine [you say] ‘Quit shooting the ball. Drive it.’ There’s a big difference. You can coach different, which is fun.”
Prediction: Maryland 83, Samford 66
Random: Samford didn’t have a live bulldog mascot for three decades until 2008, when it got Libby. Sadly, she passed away in September and was replaced by Rex. But here she was:
More Random: Alex Len’s awesome T-shirt:
Western Carolina (7-6) at NC State (9-4), 2:00 PM, ESPN3
After a three-game stretch starting with North Carolina Central when he only scored one point, NC State’s Lorenzo Brown has really come on offensively in the last two games. Brown has averaged 20 points on 12-of-24 shooting in the last two games. And his assist totals have picked up – Brown is averaging 6.7 assists per game this year and 8.5 in the last four games.
Brown’s play, along with that of his very improved teammate C.J. Williams, gives the Wolfpack consistent perimeter scoring options besides Scott Wood. Wood has been in a “slump” (by his standards), making just 8-of-25 three’s in the last four games after starting the year making 25-of-44 before that. But Brown has made 4-of-5 three-pointers in that span and Williams has made 5-of-12 3’s.
NC State has to have someone besides Wood be a three-point threat. It would be huge for NC State if Williams or Brown (or even transfer graduate student Alex Johnson, who has made 6-of-8 in that span) could emerge as a three-point shooter that defenses have to respect.
Prediction: NC State 91, Western Carolina 76
Random: Western Carolina’s mascot is original and awesome (a Catamount). But it’s fortunate they chose that one in 1933. The alternate was a Mountain Boomer, which is a small ground squirrel (it is difficult to catch, at least).
Last week: 14-2
This season: 50-15