Blacksburg, VA – Virginia Tech jumped out to a huge first half lead and never trailed in the game, blowing out North Carolina Central 72-30 in Cassell Coliseum on Monday. The Hokies are now 14-3 overall, and remain 1-2 in the ACC. They finished their non-conference schedule with a 13-1 record, with their only loss coming to Temple back in November.
NC Central came into this game with a 4-15 record, with no wins over Division I opponents this year. That’s exactly how they played against the Hokies. The Eagles scored just eight first half points, and Tech played all of their freshmen for most of the second half. NC Central shot just 26.5% from the field, and they were limited to just four field goals in the first half.
The Eagles only shot two free throws the entire game. The Hokies struggled from the line for the second straight game, going 15-of-24 (62.5%). It was a well balanced game offensively for Tech, who was lead by true freshman Erick Green with 11 points. He was the only Hokie in double figures.
Green went 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range. He also threw down a monster left handed dunk in the lane in traffic in the second half. Green was fouled on the play, and went to the free throw line and converted the old fashioned three-point play. He also finished with two assists and just one turnover.
Dorenzo Hudson finished with nine points, while Malcolm Delaney added just five, all of which were from the free throw line. Terrell Bell had eight points and nine rebounds, and freshman wing Manny Atkins added eight points as well. Freshman forward Cadarian Raines had seven points and four rebounds.
The Hokies won this game by 42 points, but it was far from a crisp offensive performance. They were just 10-of-30 (33.3%) in the first half, but with the backups playing extended minutes for the second half, things got better. Tech was 15-of-26 (57.7%) in the second half, and they outrebounded NC Central 44-25.
The Eagles are a transitional team who are in the middle of making the jump from Division II to Division I. They are ranked #344 in the RPI out of 347 teams in Division I basketball. While this win will count for the Hokies in the eyes of the NCAA tournament committee, it will actually hurt them in the RPI and their strength of schedule. Tech already ranked 11th out of 12 teams in the ACC in strength of schedule.
The Hokies forced 21 turnovers and had 15 assists, but the real highlight of this game came in the final minutes from little used walk-on Paul Debnam. Debnam drained a three-pointer from the right corner, and later went down the lane to throw down a monster one-handed dunk.
Debnam, a big fan favorite in the student section, ran to the crowd and gave high fives after the game. It was certainly a game that the senior walk-on will remember for the rest of his life.
Virginia Tech will take the rest of the week off, and then return to action on Saturday afternoon against Boston College. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30pm, and the game will be televised by Raycom. Check your local listings.