For the second time this season, UVA dictated the tempo against Virginia Tech, got off to a better start, and pulled out a low-scoring victory, this time 61-54 in Charlottesville. The Hokies dropped to 17-8 overall, and 7-5 in the ACC with the loss. The Hoos improved to 13-13, with a 4-8 mark in conference games.
Malcolm Delaney paced Tech with 22 points on 8-of-22 shooting. He was 6-of-15 from three-point range, and hit some very tough outside jumpers in the second half to keep his team in the game. However, Delaney got to the free throw line just once, and missed another critical front end of a one-and-one.
Jeff Allen had his seventh consecutive double-double, finishing with 11 points and 15 rebounds. However, Allen rarely touched the ball in the paint, as UVA’s impressive pack line defense did an excellent job as usual of denying post players the ball. Erick Green also had a solid game for the Hokies, with 12 points and two assists.
Victor Davila had seven points and seven rebounds, but Terrell Bell had just two points on a pair of free throws, committed three turnovers, and had a couple of mental errors on the defensive end.
Seth Greenberg only used Manny Atkins for five minutes, and Ty Garland for less than one minute at the end of the game. Jarell Eddie did not play at all. Green, Delaney and Allen all played 40 minutes, with Victor Davila in the game for 39 minutes.
In the December meeting between these teams, UVA won 57-54 after getting out to a 16-point lead in the first half. After getting down early, the Hokies began to play with a greater sense of urgency and rallied to make it a one-possession game, but it was too late. That’s exactly how Saturday’s game played out, with UVA leading by 15 points with 11:59 remaining in the game.
It looked like a blowout in the making, but Seth Greenberg went with a fullcourt press and the Hokies got a lot more active defensively and begin forcing turnovers, playing with much more energy. Tech went on a 13-1 run that was capped by a Malcolm Delaney three-pointer at the 7:46 mark of the first half, making the score 45-42 UVA.
However it was too little, too late, and a three-pointer by Mustapha Farrakhan pushed the lead back to six points, and the Hokies got no closer than four points the rest of the way.
Virginia Tech and Virginia play two very different styles of basketball, with the Hokies preferring a faster paced game. Virginia succeeded in forcing the tempo, often holding the ball for 30 seconds or more on each possession before shooting. On several occasions they knocked down tough shots with the shot clock winding down, which was very frustrating for the Hokies.
Tech was lulled into a slow-paced, halfcourt game until they started pressing in the second half. Until that point, they showed no sense of urgency. However, basketball games are 40 minutes, not 10 minutes, and UVA played yet another excellent defensive game after holding Duke to 56 points on Wednesday night.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Tuesday night, when they travel to Winston-Salem to take on struggling Wake Forest. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by ESPN2.