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Yes, Virginia, USC Happy to Leave : Hokies Hand the Young Trojans Their Third Loss, 101-73

December 01, 1987|JACK BOGACZYK | Special to The Times

BLACKSBURG, Va. — In completing a dismal three-game road trip to Virginia, USC's basketball team scored only one field goal in the final 6:25 of Monday night's game against Virginia Tech.

But a 101-73 loss to Virginia Tech was assured even before that cold stretch, as the only consistency displayed by the Trojans was the substituting by Coach George Raveling.

USC led, 37-36, at halftime. Tech, winning its home debut under new coach Frankie Allen, then scored its next 36 points in just the first 8:40 of the second half.

At that juncture, the Hokies (1-1) led, 72-53. And unless the Trojans got behind Tech's changing, pressuring, trapping defense for a layup, no basket came easily.

Virginia Tech's offensive show was only the fourth time a USC opponent has scored in triple figures in 566 games. The other three 100-plus games in USC's last 20 years were by UCLA (twice) and Syracuse (in 1986).

Now, USC goes home for its Sports Arena opener Thursday against Seattle, then picks up more frequent-flyer points at Alabama on Saturday.

"I was very impressed by Virginia Tech's enthusiasm," Raveling said. "I was impressed with how aggressive they were over 40 minutes, particularly on the backboards.

"They sealed our doom with three-point shots, and when they weren't hitting those, they were going in for offensive rebounds. Midway through the second half, I thought they evolved into a pretty good balance in their offense."

A USC team that took top-ranked North Carolina into the final seconds only 72 hours earlier forced Virginia Tech into an up-tempo game. But the Trojans couldn't convert from close range and then misfired from three-point range trying to play catch-up.

In the three losses, Raveling's rebuilding team shot only 38.5% from the field and averaged more than 20 turnovers per game. The Trojans had Virginia Tech in early foul trouble but couldn't take advantage because of offensive breakdowns.

"We've got two or three people who understand what we're trying to do," Raveling said, "but then we seem to have one or two who don't and that breaks down the offensive continuity.

"But let's give some due to Tech's quickness, too. The press really hurt us. We're not a cohesive team at this point. I've been in this business for 26 years, and we're going through the trials and tribulations of a young team."

Allen was named Virginia Tech's interim coach Oct. 3, one day after Charlie Moir resigned. Virginia Tech is on two years of National Collegiate Athletic Assn. probation, but Allen has preached intensity and unity to his team since practice began.

Against the Trojans, those intangibles surfaced early and made a difference in the second half. Guard Wally Lancaster had 19 second-half points after shooting 2 for 11 in the opening period.

The Hokies needed close-range points because the first-half perimeter play was reflected in Lancaster's 2-for-11 effort. "I couldn't get a shot to go in," the Hokies' junior guard said. "And I was getting wide open shots, too."

But Allen told Lancaster to keep firing, and Lancaster wasn't bashful. "I think the guards made a lot more effort trying to get the ball inside," Lancaster said. "We needed to get them in the offense, and we did."

Forward Greg Brink had 12 rebounds and 9 points, and center Eric Sanders reached double figures in both categories. Roy Brow's five blocks and defensive arm-waving--he's 6 feet 11 inches and has a 92-inch arm span--helped USC into its 34% shooting in the second half.

While Lancaster found his shooting eye, USC's Anthony Pendleton--who had a 20-point opener against North Carolina--was only 2 for 10. Raveling's team shot only 27% from three-point range.

As Raveling tried to sort out a club with 10 new faces, the Virginia Tech coach savored one of the most stunning wins in Tech history.

"We had players diving all over the floor for loose balls," Allen said. "If we continue to play like that, there will be some other satisfying nights."

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