Virginia Tech played a sloppy game on Saturday, but managed to come away with a 64-52 win over the Columbia Lions in Madison Square Garden. This was the first game of the Aeropostale Holiday Festival. The Hokies (7-4) will take on either St. John’s or Marist in the championship game on Sunday at 2pm.
This was Virginia Tech’s fourth straight win in Madison Square Garden. The streak dates back to December 21, 2006 when the Hokies beat Seton Hall 80-61. It continued through last season when Tech beat Hofstra and St. John’s in the Holiday Festival.
Tech point guard Malcolm Delaney led the way with 25 points and nine rebounds. Delaney hadn’t been very aggressive this season until Saturday. Greenberg told Delaney following the Longwood game that he wanted him taking at least 12 shots per game. He responded, going 8-of-16 from the field, including a 3-of-7 mark from three-point range. He was also a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Delaney has not missed a free throw since the December 1 game against Wisconsin.
Delaney had to run the show the entire game, because backup point guard Hank Thorns is out with an injured knee. He has a first degree MCL sprain, and the injury will be reevaluated this coming week.
Tech was also without leading scorer A.D. Vassallo for the first seven minutes of the game. Vassallo did not start because of a violation of team rules. He eventually checked in and finished with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
Jeff Allen spent much of the second half in foul trouble, which has become a recurring theme. However, he did finish with 13 points.
The other six players who saw game action for the Hokies only managed to combine for 10 points. Cheick Diakite and Lewis Witcher did not score at all. Tech did get J.T. Thompson back, and he finished with two points. It was his first game of the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery and spraining his foot. His role is expected to increase as he gets healthy and back into basketball shape.
Without Vassallo in the starting lineup, the Hokies started slow. They trailed by as many as five points in the first half, but closed the half on a 17-4 run and took a 28-20 lead into halftime.
Tech was a little better offensively in the second half, but they could never pull away from Columbia. The Lions cut the lead to six points on several occasions late in the game, but the Hokies managed to pull away down the stretch.
The Hokies will face the winner of the St. John’s-Marist game on Sunday at 2pm. The game will be televised by MSGTV. Check your local listings.