In one of the most amazing finishes in Virginia Tech basketball history, the Hokies knocked off Florida State 52-51 on Friday night to improve to 21-10 and greatly strengthen their NCAA Tournament chances.
Leading 51-50, Florida State inbounded the ball on their own end of the court with approximately 18 seconds remaining. Seth Greenberg called for a trap as soon as the ball was inbounded, and Jeff Allen ripped the ball away from sophomore guard Michael Snaer, and Seth Greenberg called a timeout with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
The Hokies inbounded to Malcolm Delaney, who drove baseline but found himself trapped by Florida State’s lengthy defense. Delaney nearly stepped out of bounds, but managed to kick it out to an open Erick Green.
Green was 1-of-12 from the field up until that point, with his only made shot a layup. He was suffering through one of the worst shooting nights of his career. However, the sophomore point guard calmly stepped just inside the three point line as a Florida State defender leaped in front of him, and knocked the shot down, hitting nothing but the bottom of the net. The Hokies led 52-51 with 4.7 seconds remaining.
That was only the beginning of the drama. Florida State called a timeout and inbounded to point guard Derwin Kitchen, who rushed up the court and into the right corner, where he was well defended. Kitched put up a fadeaway from the corner with a man right in his face, and the shot was good. The Florida State bench swarmed over Kitchen, and the Hokies walked to the bench with their hands on their heads, and their heads down.
However, the officiating crew huddled around the replay monitor for over two minutes, with a police officer as their escort, to determine whether or not Kitchen got the shot off in time. It was as close as it can possibly get, but the replay showed that the ball was still on Kitchen’s fingertips as the clocked reached 0.0. Head official Bryan Kersey put his headseat down, walked towards the center of the court, waved off the shot, and the Tech bench erupted in a wild celebration.
It was an amazing victory for the Hokies, who trailed 27-19 at halftime. Seth Greenberg called a timeout 40 seconds into take out star guard Malcolm Delaney and give him a stern talking-to on the bench. Tech shot just 18% from the field in the first half, and trailed virtually the entire game.
Malcolm Delaney paced the Hokies with 16 points, five assists and three steals, and hit several critical field goals in the second half. Jeff Allen spent most of the first half in foul trouble, but finished with nine points and eight rebounds. Victor Davila also had three fouls in the first half, and as a result Manny Atkins had to play 31 minutes.
Besides Green, Atkins was the real hero of the game. He came off the bench to score 14 points and grab three rebounds, while going 3-of-4 from three-point range.
The Hokies shot just 31.5% from the field, but they kept attacking the taller FSU defense on the inside and got to the free throw line 21 times. Though they only made 12 attempts, that was the difference in the game, along with 20 Florida State turnovers. Virginia Tech committed just 10 turnovers.
If the Hokies make the NCAA Tournament, which looks probable at this point, Green’s shot will go down as one of the biggest shots in Virginia Tech basketball history.
In the meantime, the Hokies still have a championship to play for. They will get a rematch with the Duke Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Saturday at 3pm. The game will be televised by the ACC Network and ESPN.