With NCAA tournament aspirations on the line, Boston College and Virginia Tech will meet at Cassell Coliseum in an ACC clash on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. (TV/Radio: ESPN/WEEI).
The Eagles (17-11, 7-7 ACC) are still on the bubble, but are coming off of a 63-44 trouncing of Virginia on Saturday. Reggie Jackson (18.4 PPG) scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Eagles, who shot 51.1% from the field.
"I'm proud of our effort Saturday responding to a team like Virginia who has been playing well," said Boston College head coach Steve Donahue in his weekly ACC teleconference. "We did a great job on the road, especially defensively."
Earlier in the week, Boston College suffered a 73-64 home loss to conference rival Miami. Joe Trapani (14.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG) had 16 points and Jackson added 15 in the Eagles' loss. BC made 19-of-49 field goals (38.8%) and 8-of-23 three pointers (34.8%).
"We had an interesting week - a very rough game at home versus Miami," Donahue said. "I thought they came out and got into us and took it to us early. Fought back, but obviously didn't play extremely well throughout the game."
The Eagles can't afford a similar style of sloppy play on Tuesday night against Virginia Tech (19-8, 9-5 ACC), which is coming off of a stunning upset win over then top-ranked Duke on Saturday. Jeff Allen (14 PPG, 10.5 RPG) finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Hokies to a 64-60 win over the Blue Devils, who were held to 39.7% shooting.
Malcolm Delaney had 11 points in the game, well short of his average (18.8 PPG), but also grabbed seven rebounds. Regardless of his off night, Delaney is one of the ACC's premier guards, averaging 4.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 27 games this season. In addition, Delaney is shooting 42.2% from the field and a career-high 41.7% from three-point range.
BC and Virginia Tech met once earlier this season on February 5th, and the Eagles escaped with a 58-56 win at Conte Forum. Trapani had 14 points and nine rebounds and Jackson added 10 points for BC while Allen amassed 25 points and 19 rebounds and Delaney scored 19.
While the outcome went Boston College's way in the last meeting, Donahue realizes that both teams have changed.
"You know, obviously we all watch our previous game when you have it," Donahue said. "I think we're different as we continue to grow this program, so I don't know how much I can get out of that. But I think a couple of things are critical to our success in whatever game we play. We have to be very good with the basketball. It's just something that if we don't do well, we don't have the athletic ability and the defensive athletic ability to overcome that."
Unfortunately for Donahue, recent history doesn't bode well for the Eagles. In the last six meetings between Boston College and Virginia Tech, the home team has won each game, and of course, Tuesday night's game will be played at the Hokies' home gym. With that in mind, it's even more important for BC to get off to a good start and make smart decisions with the ball.
"If we're great with the ball and we limit turnovers and we're sharing it and making shots, I think, for us, it's critical," noted Donahue. "It gives us a chance to set our defense and obviously gets the flow of the game in our favor. I thought we did that at our place for the most part. We controlled the tempo, and got good looks and hence we played pretty solid half court defense."
Naturally, Donahue hasn't been able to escape all of the rumors surrounding the ominous NCAA tournament bubble, which his Eagles are firmly on. However, he has done all he can to ignore all the media-created drama.
"I've always thought it was not good for me mentally to think in those terms," said Donahue. "Some guys can handle it. There are other guys in this business that have a great way of handling the media attention and putting it into their guys' minds. "
"I'm just trying to look at my team, figure out ways that we can get better. Do little things in terms of practice sessions and try to do those things. For me to have other thoughts of what people are saying about my program, it's hard for me to have that kind of concentration that I want."
The Eagles enter Tuesday night's contest ranked 108th in the country in scoring (71.5 PPG) and 89th in team field goal percentage (45.5%). BC also ranks 57th in assists (15 APG) and a dreadful 300th in rebounding (32.1 RPG).
As for the Hokies, they are ranked 98th in the country in scoring (71.9 PPG) and 54th in team field-goal percentage (46.3%). In addition, Virginia Tech ranks 162nd in assists (13.2 APG) and 159th in rebounding (35.3 RPG).
Boston College will return home for its regular season finale against Wake Forest on Sunday following Tuesday night's tilt while Virginia Tech travels to face conference foe Clemson on Saturday in its next game.