Blacksburg, VA — Virginia Tech struggled offensively, but they used a strong defensive performance to fuel a 59-46 victory over UNC Greensboro on Tuesday night in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies are now 2-0 on the season, while the Spartans dropped to 0-2.
Tech faced a zone defense for much of the night, and they had plenty of open looks, but the shots just weren’t falling. The Hokies were 24-of-64 (37.5%) from the field and just 1-of-13 (7.7%) from three-point range. For the second consecutive game, they were 10-of-18 (55.6%) from the free throw line.
On the positive side, Tech held the Spartans to just 18-of-51 (35.3%) from the field, and they also forced 23 turnovers. The Hokies had just 12 turnovers, and they’ve turned the ball over just 20 times in the first two games of the season.
Even star guard Malcolm Delaney had an off night. He was just 6-of-16 from the field, including a 1-of-5 performance from three-point range. He did hit some clutch shots in the second half when the game was close, and he finished with five assists and just one turnover in 36 minutes of action.
Jeff Allen recorded the 20th double-double of his career, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Allen also blocked three shots and had an impressive six steals in 37 minutes of playing time.
Terrell Bell continued his solid all-around play. He only finished with six points, but he had eight rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals. Bell is bringing energy to the table, and it appears he’s improved his overall game from last season.
The Hokies do need better production from starting post player Victor Davila. He scored eight points, but he had just four rebounds against a smaller UNC Greensboro team.
Turnovers were the difference in the game. The Hokies used their superior athleticism to force 23 turnovers, and they turned that into 27 points. Tech hit the offensive glass hard, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, but they only scored 11 second chance points thanks to their poor shooting night.
The first half of this game was very close, with the Hokies never able to pull away thanks to a number of missed open shots. Tech was just 12-of-37 (32.4%) from the field in the first half, and they were 0-of-10 from three-point range. UNC Greensboro led 7-6 early in the game following a three-pointer from Mikko Koivisto, who scored all 10 of his points in the first half.
Koivisto was defended by Dorenzo Hudson in the second half, and he didn’t even get off a shot attempt. Hudson played very strong defense to close the 2008-09 season, and it appears that he’s picking up where he left off this year.
The Spartans led by as many as four points in the first half, but the Hokies came back to take a 26-24 lead. UNC Greensboro freshman point guard Kyle Randall scored in the paint to tie the game at 26 with 1:56 remaining, and both teams went scoreless for the rest of the half. The game was tied at the halftime intermission, and the Hokies had some work to do.
The second half was much better for Virginia Tech. They held the Spartans to just 20 points, and UNC Greensboro was just 7-of-24 (29.2%) from the field. As a result of their strong defense, the Hokies were gradually able to pull away for the win.
With the game tied at 38 with 10:48 remaining, Jeff Allen and Malcolm Delaney took over and gave the Hokies a comfortable lead. Allen started an 11-0 run with a dunk, and he later scored on a layup to total four points during the short run. Malcolm Delaney did the rest, hitting a layup, a jumper and a three-pointer. The three-pointer gave Tech a 49-38 lead with 6:40 remaining in the game, and the Spartans couldn’t get enough going offensively to threaten the Hokies for the rest of the contest.
Virginia Tech returns to action next Monday night when they travel to Campbell to take on the Camels. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm. The game will not be televised.