December 19, 2015
Bibbs' hot hand carries Tech past Grambling State
Tech sophomore scored a career-high 31 points in Hokies' 87-52 win
Grambling State (2-9) 322052
Virginia Tech (8-3) 355287
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 4,649
  • High Points: 31 - Justin Bibbs
  • High Rebounds: 12 - Kerry Blackshear Jr.

BLACKSBURG - Justin Bibbs scored a career-high 31 points to lift Virginia Tech to an 87-52 victory over Grambling State in a non-conference game played at Virginia Tech Carilion Court on Saturday.

The win marked Tech’s fourth straight and moved the Hokies to 8-3 overall. Grambling State fell to 2-9.

Bibbs hit 10 of 14 from the floor, including 7 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc, tying the school record for 3-pointers in a game shared by three others (Wally Lancaster, Zabian Dowdell and Malcolm Delaney). He came into the game ranked second nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage at 62.5 percent (25 of 40) and has bumped that average to 64 percent (32 of 50) on the season.

“I’m just staying focused,” Bibbs said. “I’m always getting in the gym and getting shots up, just working on my game. As a team, we need to keep working together.”

The Hokies led just 40-37 after Grambling State's Chase Cormier hit a 3-pointer with 18 minutes remaining. But Virginia Tech went on a 27-4 run over the next nine minutes to take control. Bibbs scored 17 of the 27, hitting three 3-pointers in that run.

Grambling State hit just 2 of 13 from the floor and committed 12 turnovers during that nine-minute span.

“I think we were playing a lot harder,” Tech coach Buzz Williams said of the difference between the first and second halves. “The pace was more our style. We got to the free-throw line much more. Instead of shooting 16 3’s, like we did in the first half, we only shot 10 in the second half. We had many more paint-derived 3’s in the second half. There were several things that I thought were better. I thought we offensive rebounded the ball better. We got more stops, so we were able to play in transition. All that stuff is combined.”

Grambling State only trailed 35-32 at halftime after a first half in which it shot 50 percent (14 of 28). The Tigers hit 4 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc, and Nigel Ribeiro's 3-pointer at the buzzer left the Tigers down three at halftime. Ribeiro scored 13 points in the half, including three 3-pointers.

But the Tigers couldn't overcome their 24 turnovers — 15 in the second. They shot just 30 percent in the second half (7 of 23).

Tech shot 45.8 percent from the floor (33 of 72) and hit a season-high 10 3-pointers. Zach LeDay scored 14 points for the Hokies, while Seth Allen added 13 and Kerry Blackshear, Jr. 11. Blackshear, Jr., also grabbed 12 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

Chris Clarke did not play in the game for the Hokies because of an illness.

Tech now gets ready to take a step up in competition, as the Hokies head to Brooklyn, New York, to face St. Joseph’s, and then comes back home to play nationally ranked West Virginia before opening conference play.

“That was the last game we’ll play in that we’ll be favored in. That’s for sure,” Williams said after the Grambling State game. “We’ve got 20 games left that we’re assured of, and that game was the last one that we’ll be favored in.

“I told our team, ‘Look at who we were in the first half and look at who we were in the second half. That’s the sign of a immature team.’ So which team are we? Or are we just going to continue to go up and down? If we continue to go up and down, then we’ll be average at best.

“I wish I had more conclusive evidence. I think we’re beginning to have more good possessions on both ends of the floor. I think we’re stringing together more good possessions. As the schedule turns, we’re going to have to do a lot better.”

The Tech-St. Joseph’s game will be played Tuesday at 1 p.m.

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