#23 Virginia Tech improved their ACC road record to 3-1 following a 73-65 victory over Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. The Hokies are 16-5 overall and 6-1 in the ACC. With Boston College’s loss at Duke on Sunday, Virginia Tech is all alone in first place in the ACC. Georgia Tech drops to 13-7 overall and 2-5 in ACC play. It was the Yellow Jackets’ first home loss of the season.
With the win, the Hokies won back-to-back road conference games for the first time since 1985 when they won at Florida State and South Carolina in the old Metro Conference. In their first two seasons in the ACC, Tech won just two road games each year. They already have three road wins this season.
Just like they did against Miami on Tuesday, the Hokies shot the lights out in Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Virginia Tech was 25-of-42 from the field, good for 59.5%. They were also 19-of-25 from the free throw line for 76%.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech’s defense was outstanding. Georgia Tech came into the game shooting 50.6% for the season, tops in the ACC, but could manage just 36.6% from the field against Tech and just 31.8% from three-point range. Virginia Tech also out-rebounded the bigger Yellow Jackets 35-33.
The Hokies placed three players in double figures, and they were led as usual by senior guard Zabian Dowdell. Dowdell scored 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He was also 8-of-8 from the free throw line. He showed his complete game on Sunday, also dishing out eight assists and grabbing two steals, all while turning the ball over just one time.
Small forward A.D. Vassallo started in place of Deron Washington because Washington missed a class, and Vassallo did not disappoint. He had a double-double, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was 7-of-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range.
Coleman Collins also had an outstanding game with 13 points and seven rebounds. More importantly, Collins played great defense against Georgia Tech’s starting center Ra’Sean Dickey. Dickey did not score in the game and had just three rebounds.
Virginia Tech trailed just once in the game, and that was after Georgia Tech’s opening possession. Vassallo quickly answered with a three-pointer for the Hokies, who came to play from the opening tip. By the first media timeout at the 14:54 mark of the first half, Virginia Tech had built a 15-7 lead.
Georgia Tech was able to cut the first half lead to two points on several occasions but could never pull even with the Hokies or take the lead. Georgia Tech pulled to within four points late in the first half, but four consecutive points by Zabian Dowdell in the final 1:03 of the half gave the Hokies a 38-30 lead heading into the halftime intermission.
The second half saw Georgia Tech making several runs at Virginia Tech’s lead, but each time the Hokies answered with clutch play. The Yellow Jackets cut the lead to 44-41 with 15:28 left in the game, but a jumper by Dowdell and a free throw by Jamon Gordon put the Hokies back up by six.
At the 10:07 mark, Georgia Tech’s Mouhammad Faye hit a jumper in the lane to make the score 49-45, but again Virginia Tech answered. First Jamon Gordon found Cheick Diakite for an easy layup underneath, and then Dowdell hit a jumper on a fast break to put the Hokies up 53-45 with 9:41 remaining.
After an A.D. Vassallo three-pointer put Virginia Tech up 56-47 at the 8:20 mark, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t get the Hokies’ lead to any less than seven until 2:07 mark. Jamon Gordon was whistled for a technical foul, and Anthony Morrow hit one of two free throws to make the score 62-56. A jumper by Zach Peacock cut the lead to 62-58 with 1:52 remaining.
At that point, Georgia Tech began to foul the Hokies in an effort to get back into the game. However that strategy backfired, as Virginia Tech hit 11-of-12 free throws in the final 1:48 to hang on for the eight point victory. The Hokies led by as many as 10 in the final seconds, but Georgia Tech hit a jumper with five seconds remaining to make the final score 73-65.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they host the NC State Wolfpack. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 pm, and the game will be televised by RSN (check local listings).