Virginia Tech used a great defensive effort to defeat UNC-Greensboro 67-39 in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night. The Spartans had already defeated Georgia Tech earlier in the year, but the Hokies would have none of it, jumping out to an 11-0 lead and never looking back. Tech improved to 4-3 with the win, while UNC-Greensboro fell to 3-3.
The story of this game was Virginia Tech’s defense. UNC-Greensboro entered the game shooting 39.7% from three-point range. They featured three players shooting at least 43.8% from the outside, and those three players had combined for 77 three-pointers in five games.
This was a worrisome matchup for Virginia Tech, because their three-point defense early in the season had not been particularly strong. However, the Hokies appeared to be much improved on Tuesday. They fought through screens much better than in the first six games, and contested nearly every shot. The result? UNC-Greensboro shot just 26.5% from the field, and 5.6% from the outside. The Spartans were only 1-of-18 from three-point range.
UNC-Greensboro scored 12 of their 39 points from the free throw line. Their half court offense was stymied by Virginia Tech all night.
Freshman forward Jeff Allen led the Hokies in scoring and rebounding. He finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, his third double-double in just seven games. He narrowly missed a fourth double-double earlier in the season when he had 21 points and nine rebounds against Butler.
Allen also blocked a shot and had two steals. He is averaging two steals per game, tops on the team. He achieved his impressive statistics on Tuesday despite playing just 22 minutes because of foul trouble.
Tech’s only other double figure scorer was A.D. Vassallo. However Vassallo was just 4-of-16 from the field. He’s been in a slump since the Penn State game, and he’ll need to get back on track if the Hokies want to beat George Washington on Sunday.
The freshmen guards played well. Hank Thorns scored seven points, and also dished out six assists while committing just two turnovers in 23 minutes. Malcolm Delaney had nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from the outside. He also had three assists and just two turnovers in 22 minutes.
The Hokies forced 18 UNC-Greensboro turnovers, while committing just 10 of their own.
Virginia Tech got off to a strong start in this game, jumping out to a quick 11-0 lead. UNC-Greensboro didn’t get on the board until their star forward Kyle Hines tipped in a missed shot at the 16:07 mark of the first half. Hines scored 15 points for the Spartans, but overall Cheick Diakite and others did an excellent job defensively on one of the top small conference players in America.
The Hokies led by as many as 16 points in the first half. Their scoring slowed down, as they had trouble getting much done against UNC-Greensboro’s tough matchup zone. The defense was there for the entire half however, and the Hokies took a 27-14 lead into the halftime intermission.
That 13 point margin was as close as UNC-Greensboro got. The Hokies gradually extended their lead in the second half Tech even put in bench players such as Terrance Vinson, Marcus Travis, Tom Amalfe and Paul Debnam in the second half. The Hokies got two points apiece from Vinson and Debnam, as well as a rousing dunk by freshman forward J.T. Thompson, to outscore the Spartans 7-0 down the stretch.
In the end, the Hokies claimed the victory 67-39, easily their most impressive defensive performance of the young season.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Sunday when they host the George Washington Colonials. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30pm, and the game will be televised by FSN.