Virginia Tech vs. Illinois Live Blog: 2007 NCAA Tournament
Posted by Mike on March 16, 2007
Tonight Virginia Tech plays Illinois in Game set 3 of the NCAA Tournament Day 2. The Hokies are led by senior guards Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon, and they will be needed today for Tech to win. Illinois’ strength lies in their frontcourt, and they’ll need to defend the perimeter well to force the Hokie guards inside. Actually that strategy may backfire, as few can penetrate the paint better than Dowdell.
UPDATE: Oregon 58-Miami(OH) 56, Final. Hezbollah took a good, long look at my bracket, thought about pulling the trigger, but decided against it.
7:12 pm: 4-0, Ill. Warren Carter hits two straight baskets, giving the Illini an early lead.
Virginia Tech is struggling early with their shots.
7:14 pm: 6-2, Ill. Gordon puts the Hokies on the board, but Shaun Pruitt gets a basket on the next possession.
Illinois is really slowing the game down. Their strategy is much like Miami in the ACC Tournament, but they have bigger inside players who execute it better.
7:16 pm: 9-5, Ill. Rich McBride hits a three, but Coleman Collins gets a tough basket inside.
7:17 pm: 11-7, Ill. Deron Washington is rejected on one end, and on the other end Brian Randle hits another Illini jumpshot.
Dowdell drives down the lane and gets the basket and the foul.
Our first TV timeout. Pruitt has 2 fouls.
7:21 pm: 11-8, Ill. Both teams take turns throwing the ball away after Dowdell completes getting three the hard way.
Illinois is very uncomfortable playing at Virginia Tech’s pace. If the Hokies dictate a transition game, the Illini stand little chance of competing.
7:23 pm: 14-11, VT. Dowdell and Vassallo each hit three pointers,m the latter of which give Virginia Tech its first lead.
7:24 pm: 14-13, VT. McBride drives inside and gets a layup on the next possession.
7:26 pm: As we near midway through the first half, both teams are struggling to get good shots.
7:29 pm: Dowdell is taking a breather.
7:31 pm: A great block by Diakite on Pruitt. These two teams are really clamping down defensively, which for now favors Illinois’ pace.
7:32 pm: 17-16, VT. McBride hits a three in transition, but Washington matches him on the other end.
7:33 pm: 19-17, Ill. McBride is shooting lights out right now.
Another TV timeout.
7:39 pm: 21-17, Ill. Pruitt hits a nice inside turnaround shot to extend the lead to four, but he nearly picks up his third foul.
Five and a half minutes left.
7:40 pm: 23-19, Ill. Virginia Tech is vulnerable inside, and Illinois is taking advantage.
7:41 pm: 25-29, Ill. Randle gets a dunk inside. He jumped from about 10 feet away from the basket.
Since being up 11-7, Virginia Tech has only hit two shots in over ten minutes.
7:45 pm: Nothing like an awkward pop culture reference from an announcer to give you a good laugh. Tim Brando: “FIGHT THE POWAHH!”
7:49 pm: Nigel Munson is in for the Hokies, but their shooting struggles continue. Illinois’ perimeter defense is insane.
7:51 pm: 29-19, Ill. Carter hits a three AND gets the foul. The Illini are up double digits with less then 90 seconds to go in the first half.
I think the Hokies have forgotten what a made shot looks like.
7:53 pm: 29-21, Ill. And just as I say that, Coleman Collins misses a dunk. At least Dowdell hits an open shot.
7:55 pm: After a frantic exchange at the end of the first half, Gordon misses a three at the buzzer. Illinois leads 29-21 at halftime. They’re leading because they played great perimeter defense. The Illini will need to keep that up if they want to win. As for Virginia Tech, their guard must find a way to penetrate the perimeter and force the Illini out of their gameplan. They need to attack the inside, where three opposing player have two fouls each.
UPDATE: Purdue and New Mexico State each lead by 5 against Texas and Arizona, respectively.
8:17 pm: We’re back. The second half begins with Deron Washington getting a nice basket inside. 29-23, Ill.
8:18 pm: 29-25, Ill. now THAT’S a putback, Coleman Collins!
8:19 pm: 31-25, Ill. Pruitt scores inside for Illinois’ first basket of the second half.
Illinois is pressuring Virginia Tech’s guards much more than vice versa.
8:21 pm: 31-27, Ill. Pruitt picks up his third foul.
Seth Greenberg goes ballistic and picks up a technical foul. He was really mad that Washington didn’t draw a foul.
8:23 pm: 35-29, Ill. As we go to the first TV timeout of the second half, Virginia Tech still can’t buy an outside shot.
8:28 pm: The Hokies force a shot clock violation. Collins drives inside and draws Randle’s third foul, but he can’t make his free throws.
8:30 pm: 38-29, Ill. McBride hits another three.
It’s gotten bad enough that Virginia Tech is now missing open shots. They’ve only hit four field goals in twenty minutes. That’s certainly not for a lack of effort; the Illinois defense has been stifling.
8:33 pm: 39-32, Ill. Virginia Tech finally gets a wide open shot with good passing, as A.D. Vassallo stops the bleeding.
8:36 pm: McBride heads to the locker room for unexplained reasons. While the cat’s away, the mice MUST play.
8:41 pm: 44-34, Ill. Do NOT tell me that Virginia Tech is going to lose this game because of Calvin Brock!
8:43 pm: 46-34, Ill. Everything;s going Illinois’ way. Carter’s floater bounces on the rim about three times before falling in.
The Hokies still have gotten very few open looks. With less than nine minutes left, time is running out.
8:45 pm: Seth Greenberg looks like he’s about to kill the next guy who walks by. Where’s the senior backcourt leadership?
8:48 pm: God, I hate network TV sitcom laugh tracks. For the millionth time, your jokes just aren’t that funny!
8:49 pm: 47-37, Ill. If it means anything at this point, two Illini frontcourt players have four fouls.
8:55 pm: 48-40, Ill., 6:10 left. Virginia Tech is applying defensive pressure, and they’ve been forcing turnovers. Too bad the Hokies can’t shoot free throws.
8:57 pm: 50-40, Ill. How does Carter make that shot?!?
8:58 pm: 50-42, Ill., 5:00 left. Gordon gets a tough basket inside, and the Hokies force another turnover. However, Virginia Tech still can’t hit their shots.
9:00 pm: 52-42, Ill., 4:30 left. Washington gets wrongly called for a technical, but Randle misses both of his free throws. On the ensuing possession, he gets to score from much closer.
9:01 pm: 52-45, Ill., 4:15 left. Washington finally hits a three.
9:03 pm: You just hate to see that. Gordon works so hard to force another Illinois turnover, and then he misses the point blank layup and Illinois rebounds. That Has been a microcosm of the game. The Hokies just can’t catch a break.
9:05 pm: Virgina Tech forces yet another turnover. Coleman Collins releases the ball six inches from the rim…and it falls short. At this point, you have to believe that Bruce Weber installed some sort of force field on the baskets while no one was looking. Illinois is very lucky their lead has yet to evaporate.
9:09 pm: 52-47, Ill. Collins hits his free throws, and the Hokies are within five.
Illinois commits another turnover.
Washington hits another three!!! The lead is cut to two. With 2:15 to play, it’s 52-50.
9:11 pm: Virginia Tech forces another empty trip for the Illini. With 90 seconds left, the Hokies now have a chance to tie.
9:12 pm: Gordon is fouled and sent to the line…but he misses the first one. 52-51, Ill, 70 seconds left.
9:14 pm: Washington hits a midrange jumper off the backboard! and VT takes the lead! 53-52, VT, 45 seconds left.
Since being down 47-34, the Hokies have outscored Illinois 19-5.
9:17 pm: Illinois misses two shots on their end, and A.D. Vassallo rebounds and gets fouled. Replay shows Washington may have fouled Carter on his attempt. Vassallo makes one of two free throws. 54-52, VT, 17 seconds left.
9:19 pm: Randle misses an open three, but Washington fouls him. He misses his first free throw, Washington rebounds, Virginia Tech wins a scrum for the ball, and Virginia Tech wins, 54-52! An unbelievable comeback by the Hokies. Seth Greenberg’s full court pressure in the second half caught Illinois off guard, and they collapsed in the final minutes. Virginia Tech made far too many mistakes, but they played good enough defense to stay in the game long enough until Deron Washington carried them to victory on offense. My bracket is saved!
This is about as much live-blogging as I can take for today. I’ll be back tomorrow for the second round.