Blacksburg, VA – Virginia Tech beat Clemson in a long, foul-ridden game 70-59 in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. A total of 54 fouls were called during the game, and the Hokies made 38 free throws. Tech improved to 18-4 overall with the win, and are now 5-3 in the ACC. Clemson dropped to 16-7 and 4-5.
The Tigers came into the game ranked #32 in the RPI. This was a very important win for Tech, because it’s their first win over an RPI top 50 team this season.
Clemson was whistled for 30 fouls during the game, and 24 fouls were called on the Hokies. The teams combined for 67 free throw attempts, which caused the game to last nearly 2.5 hours.
It was the home team that came away with the advantage at the charity stripe. Tech went 38-of-46 (82.6%) from the free throw line. Malcolm Delaney scored a game high 30 points, and 20 of them came from the free throw line. His 20 made free throws tied Dorenzo Hudson’s Tech record for most free throws made in a single game.
Virginia Tech was third in the ACC in conference games in free throw percentage heading into this contest, while Clemson was only 10th. The Tigers didn’t get to the line as often as the Hokies, but they also didn’t do a great job of taking advantage when they did get there. Clemson was only 14-of-21 (66.7%) from the line.
Free throw shooting, defense and turnovers helped Tech overcome a poor shooting game. Though Tech was 11-of-23 (47.8%) in the second half, they were only 4-of-26 (15.4%) in the first 20 minutes of the game. Despite that terrible shooting, they managed to take a 29-27 lead into the halftime intermission.
The Hokies were strong defensively, as usual. Clemson shot just 30.6% from the field and turned the ball over 17 times. Virginia Tech committed just 10 turnovers. The Tigers elected not to press the Hokies the entire game because Tech has had such success beating the fullcourt press in the past.
Jeff Allen added 13 points and six rebounds for the Hokies, while Terrell Bell had 10 points, five boards, two blocks and two steals.
Freshmen Erick Green, Cadarian Raines and Ben Boggs also gave the Hokies quality minutes. Green scored eight points, making all eight of his free throws. He played 25 minutes against a tough Clemson defense, handled himself well, and only had one turnover.
Raines had to play 12 minutes because Jeff Allen, Victor Davila and J.T. Thompson were all in foul trouble. Raines finished with three rebounds, a block and a steal. Ben Boggs played just two minutes, but he came up with two big defensive plays in the first half that helped get Tech some momentum heading into halftime.
Playing less than 48 hours after beating North Carolina on Thursday night, while Clemson had the entire week off, Tech began the game a bit sluggish. They missed their first 10 field goal attempts and found themselves down 9-1. The Hokies didn’t record a field goal until Jeff Allen hit a jumper with 12:39 remaining in the half to make the score 9-3.
Clemson held the lead for most of the remainder of the half, but the Hokies finally went up near the end. Malcolm Delaney hit two free throws at the 1:10 mark to make the score 27-26, and Tech went on to take a 29-27 lead into the break.
The game remained tight for most of the second half, until Jeff Allen made two huge plays. With Tech leading 46-41 with 7:25 left, he stole the ball from David Potter near halfcourt and got a runaway layup. He was fouled on the play, and converted the free throw to give his team a 49-41 lead.
On Tech’s next possession, they got the ball inside to Allen, who was being guarded by Clemson’s star forward Trevor Booker. Booker was saddled with foul trouble and Allen took advantage, going over and around him for a layup. That made the score 51-41 Tech with 7:02 remaining.
The Tigers never pulled closer than six points the rest of the way.
Terrell Bell put the nail in the coffin when he drained a three-pointer from the right corner with 3:02 left. It was Bell’s second trey of the game off just two attempts, and it put the Hokies up 62-51. Tech hit their free throws down the stretch to hang on for the big win.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they play at NC State. Tip-off is scheduled for 9pm, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.