Southern Illinois - Virginia Tech Preview
Virginia Tech Hokies (5) Vs. Southern Illinois Salukis (4)
Sunday, 3/18 @ 2:40
Betting Line From Bookmaker: Southern Illinois -1
It was a close one and the Hokies had to fight back from an 8-point first half deficit, but Virginia Tech managed to beat Illinois 54- 52 in the first round. It was a game that was dominated by defense. In another defensively played game that was down and dirty, Southern Illinois beat Holy Cross 61- 51 to advance to round two.
Tech managed 11 steals and 4 blocked shots. They went to the free throw line 28 times while sending their opponents to the line only 15. The Hokies scored 18 points in free throws, while the Fighting Illini hit for merely 8. Disciplined play helped Virginia Tech pull out this victory as they only committed 9 turnovers to Illinois 19. V.T. was out rebounded by their opponents 34- 21.
For Virginia Tech, all of the scoring came from its starters and every starter put at least 8 points on the board. Senior point guard Jamon Gordon was a major force in the game. Along with contributing 10 points and 7 assists, Gordon executed 7 of Tech’s 11 steals. Sophomore guard/forward A.D. Vassallo was true to form, scoring 9 points, taking down 9 rebounds and dishing off 3 assists. Junior swing Deron Washington added 14 points and 3 rebounds and senior forward Coleman Collins put in 13 points and took in 3 rebounds.
Southern Illinois found Holy Cross to be a gritty competitor. Sophomore forward Tony Boyle came off the Salukis’ bench when forward Matt Shaw was injured and led the club in scoring with 14 points. He also grabbed 5 rebbies. All five starters put points up with junior forward Randal Falker taking down 8 boards and putting up 12 points. Matt Shaw, a junior, put in 11 while swiping 5 before leaving due to injury, and senior guard Jamaal Tatum handled set-up duties with 4 assists, while scoring 10 and grabbing 3 off the boards.
Southern Illinois played a hard fought game and losing a starter during the game to get a victory. They are a tough team. In beating Illinois, Virginia Tech got its first tournament victory in more than a decade. These two teams went through very physical contests to get out of round one alive. Which one will be left standing after round two?