Virginia Tech started slowly, but blew the Miami Hurricanes out of Blacksburg in the second half on their way to a 73-57 win that all but locked up a berth in the 2007 NCAA tournament. The victory improves Tech to 20-8 overall and 10-4 in the ACC. Miami drops to 11-17 overall, and 4-10 in conference play.
The Hokies won this game the way they’ve won many games in the past. They forced 15 Miami turnovers while committing just eight, outscored the Hurricanes 20-2 in points off turnovers and 10-2 in fast break points.
All five Virginia Tech starters scored in double figures. As usual, Zabian Dowdell led the way with 20 points. He was 2-of-3 from three-point range, and grabbed eight rebounds for the second consecutive game. He also had four assists and three steals.
Coleman Collins stepped up and played perhaps his best game of the season. Collins finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting. 10 of his points came in the first half. He also pulled down six rebounds and blocked a shot. He was helped on the boards by Cheick Diakite, who also had six rebounds.
Jamon Gordon had a good all-around game for Tech, finishing with 13 points. He was 7-of-10 from the free throw line. He also handed out five assists and had three steals. Deron Washington scored 12 points for the Hokies, and A.D. Vassallo added 11.
The game was a tale of two halves. Miami outplayed Tech for most of the first half, and the Hokies shot just 39.4% from the field and 11.1% from three-point range. Miami was 45.8% from the field in the first half, and 50% from the outside. Those numbers were a lot different in the second half.
Virginia Tech was 11-of-16 from the field in the second half, good for 68.8%. They also drilled both their three-point attempts in the second half. Meanwhile, Miami’s shooting percentage dropped to 30.3% from the field and 15.4% from the outside in the final 20 minutes.
Miami controlled most of the first half behind the play of sophomore guard Denis Clemente. Clemente scored 10 of Miami’s first 13 points, and the Hurricanes jumped out to a 13-11 lead with 13:51 left in the first half.
After a Clemente free throw at the 13:51 mark, Virginia Tech locked down on defense, and Miami didn’t score again until Keaton Copeland hit a layup with 8:39 remaining in the half. At that point, the Hokies led 19-15.
With 5:05 left in the half, Virginia Tech took a 25-23 lead on a jumper by Coleman Collins. Miami responded with a 9-0 run that put them up 32-25 at the 2:34 mark. The last four points of the run came on a 4-point play by Jack McClinton. McClinton nailed a three-pointer and was fouled by Collins, and converted the free throw to complete the run.
Virginia Tech didn’t go away. They scored the last seven points of the half to tie the game at 32 at halftime. Zabian Dowdell, who was quiet for most of the half, scored the final five points for the Hokies.
The second half began with Dowdell hitting a jumper to put Tech up 34-32. Going back to the first half, he had scored seven straight for the Hokies. Denis Clemente responded with a three-pointer that put Miami back up 35-34, but that was the last time they led. A.D. Vassallo hit a running layup on Tech’s next possession, and the Hokies had control for the rest of the game.
The Hokies steadily increased their lead throughout the entire second half. By the 15:30 mark, Tech was up 40-35 because the Hurricanes hadn’t scored since Clemente’s three-pointer on their first possession of the half.
The game was still in doubt with 9:41 remaining when Jack McClinton hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 49-44. The Hokies responded by going on a 15-5 run over the next 6:29 of the game. Jamon Gordon’s layup with 3:12 remaining made the score 64-49, and Tech was comfortably ahead. They went on to lead by as many as 18 points before winning 73-57.
The Hokies return to action on Thursday when they travel to Charlottesville to take on Virginia. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by ESPN.