CORAL GABLES, Fla. — With its NCAA tournament hopes all but gone after a dismal start to 2012, Virginia Tech was simply focused on making forward progress as it began the second half of ACC play. That, though, will have to wait for another day after the performance the Hokies gave Thursday night.
In perhaps its sloppiest showing of the year, Virginia Tech suffered a 65-49 loss to Miami, the fewest number of points it has scored in a defeat this season.
That the Hokies looked so bad at times during their eighth loss in 10 games was mind-boggling to Coach Seth Greenberg. He said during his postgame news conference the Hokies had their best three practices of the year leading into this latest setback.
“It is literally extremely difficult to put my hand on it because I left shoot-around thinking . . . we’re really locked in,” Greenberg said. “We actually looked like a mature, experienced basketball team.”
And yet as ugly as it got Thursday, with just less than eight minutes remaining in the game, the Hokies still found themselves within striking distance. Point guard Erick Green scored six straight points as part of an 8-0 run that left Virginia Tech down just five points.
But the Hurricanes responded with a 10-1 surge when guards Trey McKinney Jones and Shane Larkin (14 points) hit consecutive three-pointers to put away a contest the Hokies (13-11, 2-7) would like to soon forget.
Green led Virginia Tech with a game-high 17 points while senior Dorenzo Hudson added eight points and five assists. But it didn’t matter much since Virginia Tech tied its season high with 17 turnovers and shot just 35.2 percent from the field.
Miami (15-7, 6-3) was paced by 15 points and seven rebounds from center Reggie Johnson, who scored 11 points in the second half. Forward Kenny Kadji also chipped in with 11 points.
But it was the first half that did in the Hokies, who could not have gotten off to a worse start. Virginia Tech began the evening with a barrage of turnovers and missed shots that was easily the worst it has looked all season.
With four minutes remaining before halftime, the Hokies had as many turnovers as points (10) and were shooting an abysmal 21 percent from the floor. At one point midway through the first half, Virginia Tech turned the ball over on six of its seven possessions and then freshman Dorian Finney-Smith bounced the ball on the rim trying to complete an uncontested dunk along the baseline. Greenberg could do nothing but cringe in disgust on the sideline.
Miami, meanwhile, went on an 18-4 run to take a 28-12 lead, capped by a three-pointer from the 293-pound Johnson that had the crowd of 4,292 at BankUnited Center chanting “Reggie. Reggie.”
“It was just ridiculous. It was inept,” Greenberg said. “The turnovers weren’t a product of anything but ourselves. We saw the enemy and it was us.”
Hudson finally got the Hokies going late, scoring or assisting on every basket during a 10-0 run that left Virginia Tech down just six points in the waning seconds of the first half. On cue, though, Hurricanes forward Rion Brown got an easy putback dunk just before the buzzer to take a 30-22 halftime lead.