Needing a win to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive, the Hokies easily handled Miami on Thursday, beating the Hurricanes 65-47 in the opening game of the 2009 ACC Tournament. Virginia Tech improved to 18-13 overall with the win, and they’ll face #1 North Carolina on Friday at noon.
Malcolm Delaney led the Hokies with 17 points. Though he was just 1-of-10 from the field, he was 14-of-15 from the free throw line, and he also dished out a career high eight assists. Delaney hasn’t been shooting well from the field recently, but he still flashes the ability to get to the free throw line.
With his 14 free throws against Miami, Delaney broke Bimbo Coles’ single-season made free throws record. Coles made 200 free throws in 270 attempts back in the 1987-88 season. This year, Delaney is 205-of-234 (87.6%) from the charity stripe.
A.D. Vassallo added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Hokies. Vassallo and Delaney combined to shoot just 6-of-22 from the field, and as a team Tech was 21-of-42, but the rest of the team combined to shoot 15-of-19 from the floor.
Seth Greenberg shortened his bench for this game. The only reserve who played for over nine minutes was J.T. Thompson, who had 12 points and eight rebounds and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field.
Delaney and Vassallo are used to playing over 30 minutes per game, but Dorenzo Hudson also played 33 minutes against Miami. Jeff Allen was in the game for 30 minutes, Cheick Diakite played 18, and J.T. Thompson saw 23 minutes of action. Hank Thorns played nine minutes, but no other Hokie had more than five minutes.
The key to this win was defense. Miami shot just 34.6% from the floor, and no one scored in double figures. Jack McClinton had nine points on just 4-of-11 shooting. The Hokies did a great job denying him the ball. Adrian Thomas scored nine points off the bench for Miami, while little-used Julian Gamble played the final four minutes of the game and scored seven garbage-time points.
The Hokies also outrebounded Miami 35-22. The only thing that kept the Hurricanes in the game was 17 turnovers by Virginia Tech.
Tech got off to a great start, with Dorenzo Hudson and A.D. Vassallo knocking down three-pointers to give the Hokies a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. At the 14:25 mark of the first half, Malcolm Delaney nailed a deep three-pointer from the top of the key to make the score 12-2.
The Hokies went on to lead by as many as 14 points when Jeff Allen hit a jumper in the lane to make the score 22-8 with just 7:45 left in the first half. It was still a 13 point game, 28-15, with less than three minutes left. However, the Hurricanes closed the half on a 9-0 run and trailed just 28-24 at halftime. Despite the strong start by Tech, things were looking like they could go either way.
Things stayed close in the second half, with Miami trailing just 43-37 after a three-pointer by Lance Hurdle with 10:57 remaining in the game. That’s when the Hokies went on their final run to blow the Hurricanes out of the gym.
J.T. Thompson hit a jumper from the right elbow at the 10:24 mark to make the score 45-37, and that shot was the beginning of a 14-0 Tech run. The run was capped by a big dunk by Thompson with 7:16 left that made the score 57-37. From that point, the Hokies ran out the clock and coasted to the easy win.
The Hokies are still in must-win mode, and they take on #1 North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Friday. Television coverage begins at noon on Raycom and ESPN2.