Chapel Hill, NC — Virginia Tech led most of the game, but lost a close one to North Carolina 64-61 in the Dean Dome on Thursday night. The Hokies are now 10-5 overall and 1-2 in the ACC with the loss, while the Tar Heels improved to 12-4 and 2-0.
The Hokies jumped out to a 12-2 lead, and led until the 9:35 mark of the second half. From that point on, it was back and forth, but Malcolm Delaney’s potential game-winning three-pointer with just seconds remaining rimmed out.
Tech went into the game with only eight scholarship players, but foul trouble and even more injuries prevented what looked like was going to be a victory for most of the night. Jeff Allen played just 25 minutes after being whistled for two quick fouls during the opening minutes. The second foul came with 13:57 remaining in the first half, and Allen left the game and didn’t re-enter until the second half. He finished with four points, seven rebounds and three steals.
The most critical loss was point guard Erick Green, who missed most of the second half with leg cramps. Green finished with 10 points and three steals in 26 minutes, but lacking a second ball handler on the court for most of the second half, the Hokies couldn’t get much going offensively.
Senior guard Malcolm Delaney did all he could do, finishing with 28 points, five assists and four steals in 39 minutes. He was 7-of-12 from three-point range, and was a constant threat from long range.
Manny Atkins came off the bench to play well, scoring nine points on three three-pointers in 23 minutes. Jarell Eddie played his best game in weeks, scoring six points in 12 minutes of playing time.
Thanks to the early foul trouble, the Hokies were forced to play 40 minutes of zone yet again. Things got really thin on the bench in the second half. At one point, Terrell Bell was out of the game with four fouls, while Erick Green and Manny Atkins nursed cramps. That left Tech with just five scholarship players, and though Bell and Atkins returned, they couldn’t overcome a taller and deeper North Carolina team.
The Tar Heels gouged the Hokies on the boards, outrebounding Tech 46-33. UNC had a huge height advantage in the frontcourt, and the fact that Tech had to play 40 minutes of zone only made things worse. The Tar Heels scored 19 second chance points, and had 18 offensive rebounds against the smaller, undermanned Tech squad.
UNC’s largest lead of the game was four points, following a jump hook in the lane by Tyler Zeller with just 1:01 remaining that put the Heels up 64-60. However, Malcolm Delaney followed that up with a three-pointer to cut the lead to 62-61 with 48 seconds left.
The Tar Heels used most of the shot clock on their ensuing possession, but Zeller missed a shot and Terrell Bell cleared the rebound with approximately 19 seconds remaining. The Hokies had no timeouts remaining, and they cleared out for Malcolm Delaney, who had a solid look at the basket for a three-pointer. However, the shot was just short, and it rimmed out to the Tar Heels. Kendall Marshall then sank two free throws to clinch the game.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday night in Cassell Coliseum when they host Wake Forest. Tip-off is scheduled for 8pm, and the game will be televised by the ACC Network.