Western Illinois came to Madison and stunned Wisconsin. North Florida downed Illinois. Radford shocked Georgetown. William & Mary obliterated North Carolina State. Monmouth slid by UCLA. Chattanooga took Georgia to overtime and prevailed. Also, Belmont pushed their way by Marquette.
Was this crazy opening week in college basketball over? Not at all. The Virginia Tech Hokies welcomed the Alabama State Hornets to Blacksburg on Saturday night, taking away a surprising defeat as the SWAC squad ran by the inexperienced VT defense.
The Hornets lost a boatload of talent over the offseason, but they were undaunted by Tech. Jamel Waters, a speedy 5'9" senior from Birmingham, turned into a catalyst for his team. Waters scored 21 points, dished 7 assists, and grabbed 6 rebounds. Bobby Brown hit some key threes as he ended with 14 points. Torlorf Thomas had a rough night shooting, but played nice defense and got to the free throw line often.
Alabama State continually used a small lineup that carved the Hokies into pieces. Nigerian center Robert Ojeah was used sparingly as head coach Lewis Jackson loved what his guards were doing instead. At one point, the Hornets had four players that could play point guard on the floor.
Virginia Tech had some sensational flashes, but its youth and inexperience showed. The main bright spot for Buzz Williams' team was South Florida Bulls transfer Zach LeDay, who was the best player on the court all night. LeDay scored 26 while garnering 15 huge rebounds on both sides of the ball. The powerful young man looked like a star, but he unluckily had little help behind him. Freshmen Chris Clarke and Kerry Blackshear Jr. had hot first halves, but they cooled off dramatically in the 2nd. The talented Tech backcourt of Maryland transfer Seth Allen and sophomores Justin Bibbs and Jalen Hudson combined to go 7 for 22 from the field.
The Hokies showed tons of promise. This team is very new to the scene and it will take time for it to gel. Buzz Williams is a talented coach, so we can expect VT to improve as time passes. Alabama State, on the other hand, just grabbed a massive win for its program. The Hornets lost good players over the offseason, but it looks like they'll be the team to beat in the SWAC.
ASU heads to Birmingham to tussle with Conference USA favorite UAB on Monday, while Virginia Tech tries to regroup for their Wednesday matchup against Jacksonville State.