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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET12:00 PM GMT8:00 PM 北京时间5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST, Dec 28, 2018
Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Virginia  Attendance: 7,632

Md.-Eastern Shore-Virginia Tech Preview

The Virginia Tech Hokies are coming closer to the start of the ACC season. They feel they are coming closer to the level of cohesion they will need when conference competition begins.

Virginia Tech defeated North Carolina A&T last Saturday at home, 82-60. The Hokies led by 25 points at 68-43 with 8:38 left, then coasted home while giving their bench extended minutes. It might be hard to draw especially far-ranging or solid conclusions from a cupcake game for Virginia Tech, but one thing that has to be said is that Virginia Tech didn't give up many cheap points to North Carolina A&T. The Aggies attempted only four free throws and grabbed only three offensive rebounds. Even in a game that did not figure to be close -- and wasn't -- Virginia Tech showed considerable attention to detail.

That is being noticed by Hokies players such as Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who scored 20 points in the comfortable win.

"It's going to take more of a group. It's going to be together," Alexander-Walker said. "It's going to be all five. It's going to be a unit. It's kind of like synchronized swimming -- everyone is doing the same thing at the same time, trying to move as the ball moves."

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams did not speak like a man who thinks his players are overestimating their level of development. He was pleased with how his team and coaching staff are working together.

"I think our group has matured at a higher rate than normal," Williams said. "I think that, through that maturity, there is distinct role definition that they understand. I think the work of our staff ... has been as good as I've ever seen, our entire staff. It's not just the coaches. Everyone is specific to a role, similar to our players, and as time has progressed, we've improved in that regard."

Virginia Tech is exhibiting good habits, but the Hokies have not been severely challenged in a game since Nov. 27 against Penn State. It is very unlikely that their next opponent will test them. Nevertheless, with the ACC opener against Notre Dame just a few days away on New Year's Day, the Hokies know that continuing to remain sharp against inferior opposition will represent the best form of preparation for the ACC gauntlet to come.

Here is more about Virginia Tech's next opponent: Maryland Eastern Shore is coming off an 82-58 loss to American University last Saturday. Maryland Eastern Shore head coach Clifford Reed did not hide his disappointment with the Hawks' performance.

"Overall I feel like we did not compete the way we are capable of early on," Reed said. "That may be due to attrition from being on the road, but we have to be better."

The Hawks haven't had much good news this season -- no team with a 1-12 record does -- but they did welcome back an able-bodied Isaac Taylor to their lineup against American. Taylor, a redshirt junior plagued by a series of injuries, had not played in a game since March of 2017. He scored 11 points in 18 minutes against American, offering the hope that he can substantially improve the Hawks' fortunes.

"Isaac played well for us," Reed said about Taylor after the loss to American. "He hasn't played in a year and a half or been practicing, so it will take time to get him back in the swing of things."

Taylor's first priority is to raise the Hawks' low floor. High ceilings can wait for Maryland Eastern Shore; for now, this team simply needs to be able to get off the ground.

Updated December 27, 2018

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