Blacksburg, VA – Virginia Tech inched one step closer to the NCAA tournament on Saturday night, beating UVA 61-55 in a hard fought game in Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies are now 20-4 on the season, with a 7-3 mark in the ACC. Their next two games are against Wake Forest and Duke, who sit at #2 and #1 respectively in the ACC standings. UVA dropped to 14-8 and 5-4 with the loss.
With the win, the Hokies have defeated UVA in five of their last six meetings. They have swept their in-state rivals for two of the past three seasons.
Tech won despite Malcolm Delaney struggling from the field again. He scored 13 points and had eight rebounds, but he was only 4-of-16 from the field and 1-of-5 from three-point range.
Dorenzo Hudson led the team with 15 points, while Jeff Allen added 13 despite sitting on the bench for 17 minutes of the first half with foul trouble. Terrell Bell had seven points and nine rebounds, while J.T. Thompson added six points and 10 boards.
As usual, Virginia Tech won this game with great defense. It was the third consecutive opponent that they’ve held below 60 points. The Hoos only shot 32.8% from the field and 16.7% from three-point range.
It was Jeff Allen’s play down the stretch that propelled the Hokies to the big win. He scored six straight points in a 37 second span that took Virginia Tech from a three-point deficit to a three-point lead.
The first half of this game was ugly. UVA took a 25-21 lead into halftime, and both teams were struggling to get good looks at the basket. The Hoos and the Hokies pride themselves on defense, and that was evident in the first half of this game.
UVA took the lead into halftime because they took care of the basketball. They turned the ball over just twice in the first half, and the Hokies couldn’t score in transition or on the secondary break. The second half was a different story. The Hoos had seven turnovers in the second half, while the Hokies had just four.
The game was decided in the final minutes, and Jeff Allen took over to ensure the victory. Trailing 46-45, Allen threw down a wicked one-handed dunk over UVA forward Jerome Meyinsse to put the Hokies up by one.
Two minutes later, with Tech down 51-48, Allen connected on a running layup and was fouled by Mike Scott. He sank the free throw to tie the game at 51 with 1:51 left. After a missed jumper by Calvin Baker, Allen sank a three-pointer on a great pass from Dorenzo Hudson with 1:14 remaining to put the Hokies up 54-51. They never trailed again.
Tech continued to clamp down on defense, and they connected on seven free throws after the Jeff Allen three-pointer. Tech led by as many as eight points until a meaningless layup by Sammy Zeglinski with seven seconds left made the final score 61-55.
The Hokies continued their torrid shooting from the free throw line in ACC play, making 16-of-20 (80%). The Hoos sank 10 of 15 (66.7%).
The Hokies now look forward to a big home game with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Wake is 18-5 overall and 8-3 in the ACC. It represents a chance to get another Top 50 RPI win, which would help bolster Tech’s NCAA tournament resume. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.