Boston College 76, Virginia Tech 52: Hokies defense buckles in blowout on the road

There have been plenty of poor defensive performances since Virginia Tech Coach James Johnson took over the program before last season. But Wednesday night at Conte Forum may have been the Hokies’ worst yet.

In a matchup of two teams battling to avoid the ACC cellar, the Hokies made Boston College look like a Final Four team. Virginia Tech was run off the floor in a 76-52 blowout, the seventh straight loss for the Hokies (8-12, 1-7) and ninth in their past 10.

This one, though, was the most humiliating, littered with defensive breakdowns, turnovers and more than a handful of shot attempts that didn’t even graze the rim. Coming just a few hours after Virginia Tech officials introduced new Athletic Director Whit Babcock to the media in Blacksburg, Va., it will lead some to wonder just how many more of these outcomes Johnson can withstand if he hopes to keep his job.

“Tonight, it wasn’t much of a ballgame from the start,” Johnson said.

The final statistics didn’t do justice to the clinic Boston College (6-14, 2-5), one of the ACC’s most disappointing teams, put on against the helpless Hokies.

The Eagles led by 30 with 6 minutes 39 seconds remaining in regulation and didn’t score another point the rest of the game. Before that, though, Boston College shot 55.8 percent from the floor and connected on 14 of its 27 three-point attempts.

Virginia Tech senior Jarell Eddie emerged from a six-game shooting slump to finish with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds, but he was the lone bright spot. The rest of the team shot a combined 25 percent from the floor and the Hokies hit just five of their 23 shot attempts in the second half.

Virginia Tech played without forward C.J. Barksdale (groin) and guard Adam Smith (calf).

Wednesday night’s game was in stark contrast to when these teams met at Cassell Coliseum on Jan. 11, and the Eagles emerged with a narrow 62-59 victory.

Johnson conceded much of Boston College’s success this time around didn’t come from its complicated set offense. Instead, the Eagles simply penetrated into the lane at will and kicked the ball outside to open shooters. They shot 68.4 percent and scored 46 points before halftime, the most Virginia Tech had allowed in a first half since a 96-77 loss to then-No. 1 Michigan State on Nov. 22.

“It’s really tough to put that time in, put that work in and come out and play the way we did,” said Eddie, who had 19 points in the first half and single-handedly kept the game competitive for a stretch. “I don’t think we’re going to quit. I don’t think we’ve given up or anything like that. We just got to get a win.”

Johnson, though, left Conte Forum bewildered. His team had practiced well following Saturday’s loss at Virginia, but another dreadful showing left them on pace to finish in last place in the ACC for a third straight season.

So as he walked toward the team bus, and another long flight home, Johnson could only shake his head and wonder what might come next.

“We just don’t got it right now,” he said.

Mark Giannotto covers Virginia and Virginia Tech for The Washington Post.
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