Virginia Tech finished 1-2 in the Great Alaska Shootout over the Thanksgiving weekend, giving them an overall record of 2-2 on the season. After defeating Eastern Washington 69-52 in their first game, Tech dropped a heartbreaker to #22 Butler on Friday, losing 84-78 in overtime. Tech then dropped the third place game to #14 Gonzaga 82-64.
In the Butler game, Tech made a gutty comeback in the second half to force overtime. The Hokies trailed by 11 with 9:03 to play, and later trailed by four with less than 40 seconds remaining. Freshman forward Jeff Allen scored the last two baskets to force overtime.
The basket that tied the game came with 14 seconds remaining, and Allen was fouled on the play. The potential game-winning free throw was too strong, and the game went into overtime, where Butler eventually pulled out the win. It was a great effort from a Hokie team that features five freshmen and one sophomore in the nine-man playing rotation.
Jeff Allen led the Hokies with 21 points and nine rebounds against Butler. He was 10-of-18 from the field in 39 minutes of action. A.D. Vassallo added 19 points, while Deron Washington had 14. Freshman guards Hank Thorns and Malcolm Delaney had eight points each, and freshman forward J.T. Thompson added six points and four rebounds.
The Hokies were very competitive with Gonzaga early, but the Bulldogs’ experience eventually prevailed in the second half. Jeff Allen got in foul trouble early and played just 17 minutes, scoring six points. A.D. Vassallo led the team with 20 points, and went 4-of-8 from three-point range.
Vassallo is off to a blistering pace through the first four games of the season. He is 12-of-24 from the outside so far, good for 50%. He is leading the Hokies in scoring, averaging 16.8 points per game.
Deron Washington had 11 points and four rebounds against Gonzaga, while Malcolm Delaney and J.T. Thompson added 10 points apiece.
Although the Hokies are struggling with their team defense, as most young teams do, they appear to be improved in other areas. Tech is shooting a blistering 42.6% from three-point range through four games. Besides Vassallo, the freshmen guards are shooting the ball very well. Hank Thorns is 5-of-9 from the outside, good for 55.6%, while Malcom Delaney is shooting at a 42.9% clip.
The Hokies also appear to have a legitimate, big-bodied threat on the inside for the first time in the Seth Greenberg era. Jeff Allen is averaging a team-high seven rebounds per game, as well as 14.5 points per game. He also leads the team in steals with nine.
The Hokies return to action on Wednesday night, when they travel to Penn State as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30, and the game will be televised by ESPN2.