Virginia Tech beat Clemson 68-63 on Thursday night, overcoming a five point halftime deficit. Tech’s backcourt dominated the game, and the Hokies’ reward is another game with the Duke Blue Devils on Friday night.
Erick Green had a rough three-game stretch to end the regular season, but he dropped 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting on Thursday night. He was 2-of-4 from three-point range, and he made all eight of his free throws while dishing out four assists.
Green got a lot of help from fellow guard Dorenzo Hudson, who scored 19 points and grabbed four rebounds. Hudson was 6-of-12 from the field, 3-of-7 from three-point range and made all four of his free throws. As a team, the Hokies were 17-of-20 from the charity stripe, breaking a recent streak of poor free throw shooting.
Dorian Finney-Smith played one of his best games as a Hokie, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, and he did not commit a turnover. A critical layup in traffic with 2:23 remaining by Finney-Smith gave Virginia Tech a 61-52 lead, and the Hokies were able to hang on for the win, though Clemson did cut the lead to three points with 17 seconds remaining.
Cadarian Raines added nine points and four rebounds for Tech. Clemson obviously made it a focus to limit the touches of Raines, who had been putting up big numbers coming into Thursday night’s game.
Tech finished the regular season with just eight healthy scholarship players, and they used just seven players on Thursday. Freshman point guard Marquis Rankin injured a knee in practice this week and was unable to play against Clemson.
This game was nip and tuck almost the whole way. It was tied at 52 when Milton Jennings threw down a dunk at the 5:49 mark. Then Dorenzo Hudson and Erick Green dropped back-to-back three-pointers on the Tigers to start the 9-0 run that gave the Hokies a 61-52 lead.
Clemson threatened to get back in the game, with Jennings drilling a three-pointer with 17 seconds left. However, Hudson calmly hit two free throws with 15 seconds remaining, Clemson failed to score on their final possession, and the Hokies won 68-63.
Virginia Tech’s reward for beating Clemson is a third meeting with #2 seed Duke. The Blue Devils beat the Hokies 75-60 in Cassell Coliseum back on February 2, and narrowly beat Tech again 70-65 in overtime on February 25. Duke power forward Ryan Kelly is out for the ACC Tournament with an injury.
With the win on Thursday, the Hokies pulled their record even at 16-16, and their chances for a berth in the NIT remain alive. They are now 3-1 in first round games in the ACC Tournament. Tip-off for tomorrow’s game with Duke is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by ESPN2 and the ACC Network.