|Rhode Island 73, VT 52|
|Hokie Central's Game Report|
The biggest story in the days leading up to this game was not the game itself, but the flagging attendance at Cassell Coliseum. It even got to the point where The Roanoke Times ran a large article on their sports page on the subject, including quotes from Ace Custis about the small crowds.
Despite the 10-degree weather, a decent-sized crowd of about 6500 showed up, but unfortunately, they were treated to a good old-fashioned turkey shoot.
Tech's Shawn Browne started the game off hot, and the Hokies actually forged a 7-2 just a few minutes into the contest. The game was back-and-forth for a while, and late in the first, it was knotted at 24.
Five minutes into the second half, Rhode Island led 40-24. Count it up - the Rams scored 16 straight points, and the Hokies were doomed. During that stretch, Tech missed several layups and a couple of open three-pointers that would have allowed them to at least keep it under 10.
There were several keys to Tech's poor performance. As much as I hate to say this, Ace Custis once again did not come up big in a big game. Last year, he didn't take charge against UMass or in the GW road game, and he only scored 1 point and had 1 rebound in the first half of Tech's A-10 tourney loss to Rhode Island (although he came back with a strong second half).
Saturday, once again against Rhode Island, Ace came up small, scoring only 8 points on 4-11 shooting. More telling is the fact that he didn't take a single free-throw, which means that the Hokies weren't getting him the ball down low, and he wasn't taking it to the rack. Ace did turn in a strong rebounding performance, with 11 boards.
The Jackson twins also suffered through a horrible game, going 1-9 between the two of them, including at least one air ball from three point range (I missed who launched Tech's other 3-point air ball). I think part of what set the tone for the Jacksons was an early play in which Jim went up for what he thought was an open 3-pointer, only to have it blocked by the long reach of Rhode Island's 6-8 Joshua King. From that point on, the Jacksons were non-factors.
Bright spots? Keefe Matthews played good, hard, aggressive basketball and wasn't intimidated by the bigger Rams. Troy Manns had several nice drives into the middle for scores. And, uh, ... I had really good seats in the front row of the student section and finally got to meet Bill Roth in person. That's about it.
In all honesty, Rhode Island's better than the Hokies. They're bigger - you ought to see Michael Andersen from floor level. He's giant! They have better team chemistry. And on this day at least, they shot the 3 better.
It's back to the drawing board for the Hokies in today's Monday night contest against LaSalle.
Tech's record is now 8-7, 2-3 in the Atlantic 10.
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