Seth Allen did it again for Virginia Tech. With the Hokies trailing by two points with just seconds remaining, the redshirt-senior drained a big three-pointer to give his team a dramatic 71-70 victory over Clemson in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night. Tech improved to 19-8 overall and 8-7 in the ACC with the win, while the Tigers dropped to 14-13 and 4-11.
It was Allen who made two huge shots late in the game to defeat Michigan earlier in the season. He scored the go-ahead basket in a win over Georgia Tech in mid-January. He beat UVA with a last second floater just nine days ago, and his three-pointer put Tech ahead at Pitt with a minute remaining only seven days ago. Tonight’s shot was as big as any of them, and with it the Hokies are one step closer to their ultimate goal: the NCAA Tournament.
Allen actually got two chances at the end. His running layup was no good with 10 seconds left. Zach LeDay grabbed the offensive rebound, and the ball was knocked free out of bounds, and the Hokies retained possession. Justin Robinson inbounded the ball to Allen, who stepped around a screen by LeDay at the top of the key. Clemson guard Marcquise Reed, who hit two big shots in his own right late in the game to give the Tigers the lead, went under the screen, and Allen let it fly. It was good with 3.8 seconds remaining.
“The original play was for me to just get in the paint and make the right decision,” Allen said after the game. “Whether that’s score, hit the open man, read the tag or whatever, but I think we just played well as a unit.”
Allen’s shot came as a response to Clemson’s Reed, who scored five straight points to turn a 68-65 Virginia Tech lead into a 70-68 lead for the Tigers. At that point, everybody in the building was expecting Allen to get the ball for the Hokies, and though he missed his first attempt, he showed his typical clutch nature at the end.
“[Allen] and Zach [LeDay] have experienced more than a lot of us,” sophomore guard Justin Robinson said. “We kind of try to learn from them and just keep building every day.”
Despite his late game heroics, it was not a big game statistically for Allen. He played just four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. He finished the game with eight points in 19 minutes. He was 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range.
Zach LeDay paced the Hokies with 19 points and eight rebounds. Justin Robinson had 10 points and tied a career-high with eight assists. Ahmed Hill and Justin Bibbs had 12 points, while Bibbs finished with a career-high five assists. Ty Outlaw chipped in with eight points. Virginia Tech still had to survive one more Clemson possession following Allen’s three-pointer, but it was Outlaw who tipped away the pass near halfcourt into the arms of Robinson, who ran out the clock.
Most of Virginia Tech’s ACC wins this year have come in the final seconds. Here are their close wins…
Georgia Tech: 62-61
Boston College: 85-79
UVA: 80-78 (2OT)
That’s six games decided by six points or fewer, and three decided by one point, with another overtime victory. Meanwhile, Clemson’s season has gone in the opposite direction with a number of close losses…
UNC: 89-86 (OT)
@Notre Dame: 75-70
Virginia Tech: 82-81
@Virginia Tech: 71-70
That’s eight losses by six points or fewer, including three one-point losses (two to Virginia Tech), a two-point loss to Duke, and an overtime loss to UNC.
“It’s a very, very thin line between winning and losing,” Zach LeDay said. “What goes on in our practices every day, how coach gets on us, me and Seth, to be leaders down the stretch, boot camp, all that type of stuff…you can’t really teach it. You just have to have resiliency, stay calm in the moment, and just do what you have to do to win. That’s what we’ve been doing in the close games.”
Both teams led Tuesday night’s game on seven occasions, and there were 10 ties.
“The line [between winning and losing] is obviously very then, but maybe almost invisible,” Buzz Williams said. “The value of every possession on both ends is monumental.”
The Hokies were able to win the game due largely in part to their three-point shooting. Tech was 12-of-22 (54.5%) from the outside after going 16-of-27 (65.4%) in a close loss at Louisville. They also committed only nine turnovers and had 17 assists on 26 made baskets.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Boston College. Tipoff is scheduled for 4pm, and the game will be televised by RSN. Check your local listings.
Game Notes from Virginia Tech
Zach LeDay scored 19 points. That extends his ACC-best streak of consecutive double figure games to 22. He has scored in double figures in 26 of the team’s 27 games his season. He now has 961 career points at Virginia Tech.
Ahmed Hill scored 12 points. That is his 19th game in double figures this season.
Justin Robinson scored 10 points. That is his 16th game in double figures this season. He also had eight assists, tying his career-high.
Justin Bibbs scored 12 points tonight. He has scored in double figures in 12 games this season. He now has 988 career points at Virginia Tech. Bibbs also had a career-high five assists and no turnovers.
Hokies tonight joined Pitt and Notre Dame as only ACC teams this season to make at least 10 threes in three consecutive games. (credit David Teel)
The Hokies were 7-of-8 from the free throw line and Clemson was 9-10 from the free throw line. The Hokies are a combined 23 of 25 from the line against Clemson this season.
The Hokies swept the season series from the Tigers. Tech won each game by one point.
The Hokies committed nine turnovers in the game. This marks the third consecutive game that Tech has committed fewer than 10 turnovers, the first time this year that has happened.