Charlottesville, VA – “Overtime is our time.” That’s the message that Seth Greenberg preaches to his team whenever a game goes into the extra frame, and it paid off yet again on Thursday night as Tech beat UVA 76-71 in overtime. The Hokies are now 16-3 overall and 3-2 in the ACC, while the Hoos dropped to 12-6 and 3-2.
The Hokies overcame a bad start, as they got down 22-10 in the early going. They also overcame the ejection of Jeff Allen with 13:41 remaining in the game. Allen came away with a rebound in the corner and was whistled for intentionally elbowing a UVA player while protecting the ball. From the looks of the replay, it looked to be a bad call, but the Hokies were able to overcome it and hold on for the win.
Allen was playing well, with four points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes of action. He gave way to J.T. Thompson, who had a great game, finishing with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Thompson was also 5-of-6 from the free throw line and had seven rebounds. It was a big-time moment for Thompson. The Hokies needed somebody to step up, and he did.
Malcolm Delaney led the team with 27 points, while also finishing with six rebounds. However, Delaney was an uncharacteristic 0-of-6 from three-point range, though he did go 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
It was Dorenzo Hudson who stepped up to lead the Hokies outside attack. Hudson finished with 18 points, and he was 3-of-3 from three-point range. He is playing at a very high level right now, and he hit some big shots on the road against the Hoos.
Freshman point guard Erick Green also deserves a mention. Though he only scored three points, Green dished out four assists and had two steals, with no turnovers, in 22 minutes of action. He gave the Hokies great minutes when Terrell Bell went out with foul trouble in the first half.
Things did not go well for the Hokies early in this game. With less than six minutes to go in the first half, Tech was down 22-10. They could not execute in their halfcourt offense, and it looked like they were going to get run out of John Paul Jones Arena. However, they kept playing well on the defensive end, and were able to score out of the fastbreak and secondary break, and went on an 18-5 run to end the half. Up 28-27 at halftime, the Hokies were back in it, and this was anybody’s basketball game.
Virginia led by three points at the time of Jeff Allen’s ejection, and yet again, things started going downhill for the Hokies at that point. The Hoos went on a run and led 48-38 with under 12 minutes remaining. But as they’ve done so many times under Seth Greenberg, Tech persevered, kept playing defense, and got themselves back in the basketball game.
Tech’s final run came quickly, as they still found themselves down 62-52 with 2:57 remaining in the game. Delaney hit two free throws to start a big 13-0 run by the Hokies. Down 62-58 with 1:36 left, Dorenzo Hudson nailed a huge three-pointer to bring his team within one point. After a stop on the defensive end, Tech got the ball inside to J.T. Thompson, whose layup put the Hokies up 63-62 with just 39 seconds remaining.
After yet another stop on defense, Delaney hit two more free throws to make the score 65-62. It was an amazing comeback, but the Hoos still had life. Sophomore point guard Sammy Zeglinski hit a very deep three-pointer with a man in his face as time expired, evening the score at 65 and forcing overtime. Despite all they had done to get back in the game and take the lead, the Hokies had to play an extra five minutes.
But like they did in Cancun against Seton Hall, Tech thrived in the overtime period. The Hokies scored the first five points and went up 70-65. Zeglinski nailed another three-pointer to cut the lead to 70-68 with 2:23 remaining, but that was the only bright spot for the Hoos in the extra frame. J.T. Thompson responded by scoring four straight points, and Tech led 74-68 with 37 seconds remaining, and were never seriously threatened again.
J.T. Thompson was the hero of overtime. The sophomore power forward scored seven of his 17 points in those final five minutes, after scoring four big points over the last 2:17 of regulation. It was his play after Jeff Allen’s ejection that was the major factor in Virginia Tech’s big comeback.
The Hokies will play at Miami on Sunday at 1pm, and the game will be televised by Raycom. That will be Tech’s fourth road game in their first six ACC games. They’ll finally get back-to-back home games when they host UNC and Clemson next week.