Virginia Tech jumped on Florida State early and never let up, downing the ‘Noles 89-80 in a long, foul infested game in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night. An early 18-2 run gave the Hokies a huge lead, and FSU could never catch up despite a hot shooting second half. Tech improved to 13-8 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. They are now in fourth place in the conference. With a Boston College loss at UNC on Thursday night, the Hokies would be in sole possession of third place.
A.D. Vassallo scored 22 points to lead the Hokies to the win. He was 4-of-8 from three-point range. Deron Washington added a double double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. They were two of the five Tech players that finished with double figures.
Despite Jeff Allen’s return from suspension. Seth Greenberg stayed with the hot hand and started J.T. Thompson. Thompson responded by scoring 11 points, his third straight game scoring double figures. He was 7-of-8 from the free throw line. He also finished with five rebounds, a steal, an assist and no turnovers in 28 minutes. Allen had seven points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Tech’s freshman backcourt of Hank Thorns and Malcolm Delaney played very well. Thorns scored a career-high 15 points and dished out three assists. Delaney added 13 points, three assists and two steals. The two freshmen combined for just three turnovers against Florida State’s senior laden backcourt. It was the second consecutive game both Delaney and Thorns have posted double figures in scoring.
The Hokies entered this game as the #2 team in the ACC in rebounding margin in conference play, and they improved on those numbers by out-rebounding the ‘Noles 31-24. FSU had 22 turnovers, compared to 17 for the Hokies. Tech outscored FSU 19-4 in fastbreak points and 27-17 in bench points.
Florida State scored on their first possession to go up 2-0, but that was the first and only time they led during the game. The Hokies responded by going on a huge 18-2 run to open up an 18-4 lead with 11:04 left in the first half. A.D. Vassallo single-handedly outscored the ‘Noles 8-4 in the first nine minutes of the game.
Big runs against FSU are not uncommon. In the Seminoles’ three-point loss to NC State over the weekend, they blew a big lead by surrendering a 17-0 run to end the first half.
The Hokies played extremely well in the first half, shooting 61% from the floor and holding FSU to just 38.1%. Tech’s biggest lead was 39-19 with 1:33 left after two J.T. Thompson free throws, and they eventually went into halftime holding a 42-24 advantage.
Tech kept FSU at arm’s length for most of the second half, but the ‘Noles were finally able to cut the lead to under 10 points with 4:38 remaining. A three-pointer by Toney Douglas made the score 68-60, and Florida State gave themselves a chance.
For the last two minutes, FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton used excellent strategy to prolong the game. He went with a very small lineup to force the tempo, and started fouling. The ‘Noles knocked down 8-of-11 outside shots in the second half, and shot 77.3% from the free throw line for the game. They are the #1 free throw shooting team in the country.
The strategy seemed to work at first, as Hank Thorns missed his first two free throw attempts. Florida State was even able to cut the lead to five points with under a minute left. However, the Hokies came through. Thorns settled down and hit eight of his last 10 free throw attempts, and as a team Tech was 17-of-24 from the line in the final 2:19.
For the game, Virginia Tech was 35-of-47 from the free throw line, good for 74.5%. They hung in there at the line with the best free throw shooting team in the nation. The Hokies gave Jason Rich an easy layup with six seconds to go to make the score 89-80, then they ran out the clock, and A.D. Vassallo threw the basketball high into the crowd in celebration.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday afternoon in Cassell Coliseum, and they’ll be looking for a season sweep of in-state rival UVA. Tip-off is scheduled for 1pm, and the game will be televised by Raycom. Check your local listings.