With 4:32 remaining in the game, Marcus Georges-Hunt hit a free throw to put Georgia Tech up 74-64, and it appeared the Hokies were going down in Atlanta. However, Virginia Tech blitzed the home team in the closing minutes to pull out a 78-77 victory on the road – the first ACC road win of the Buzz Williams era.
The win moved the Hokies to 12-6 overall and 4-1 in the ACC. Last season Tech went 11-22 overall and 2-16 in league play. Georgia Tech dropped to 11-7 and 1-4 in the conference.
Seth Allen played poorly for 35 minutes, but turned it on down the stretch. He came up with two big steals in the final 4:09 and made 8-of-10 free throws in that span. His free throw with 3.4 seconds left gave the Hokies a one-point lead, and Georgia Tech couldn’t get off a shot in their final possession. Before the final 4:09, Allen had just five points to go along with five turnovers.
Georgia Tech led by as many as 15 points in the first half. In fact, they led by double digits for most of the first 20 minutes, though the Hokies did cut the lead to 43-33 at halftime. However, by the 16:40 mark of the second half, Virginia Tech had whittled that lead down to 47-44, and it was anybody’s ballgame.
The Hokies played poor defensively for the second straight game, but they turned it up a notch in the final 4:15. Down by 10 points, Justin Robinson and Seth Allen came up with back-to-back huge steals under the basket and converted them into four points. Georgia Tech only managed to score three points the rest of the way, and they committed four turnovers in that span. The Yellow Jackets entered the game #10 in the country in turnovers per possession. It doesn’t get much better than that, but the Hokies managed to turn them over down the stretch.
Zach LeDay gave the Hokies their first lead with 58 seconds left when his jumphook in the lane made the score 77-75. Marcus George-Hunt answered with Georgia Tech’s only field goal of the final 4:32. His shot from the lane tied the game with 30 seconds left. The Hokies had the ball for the final possession, and Seth Allen drove the lane and was fouled with 3.4 seconds remaining. He made one of two free throws, and Georgia Tech immediately called a timeout to set up a last second shot.
Brian Gregory put the ball in the hands of Georges-Hunt yet again, who had a career-high 27 points. However, he stumbled between two Virginia Tech defenders and lost control of the ball, failing to get a shot off. Time expired, and the Hokies left Atlanta with their fourth win in their last five games.
Zach LeDay once again paced Virginia Tech with 21 points. He also added seven rebounds. Seth Allen added 13 points, and his late heroics made up for several bad turnovers earlier in the contest. Freshman forward Kerry Blackshear finished with 10 points and six rebounds, while freshman point guard Justin Robinson continued his streak of good play with nine points, four assists, a steal and just one turnover.
For the second consecutive game, free throw shooting was huge for the Hokies. After going 29-of-35 (82.9%) against Wake Forest, they were 28-of-36 (77.8%) against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were just 9-of-16 (56.3%), which means Virginia Tech accomplished one of Buzz Williams’ goals: make more free throws than the other team attempts.
Former Virginia Tech guard Adam Smith, who now plays for Georgia Tech, had a horrendous game shooting the ball. Smith obviously wanted to beat his former team very badly, but he pressed, putting up numerous bad shots, particularly down the stretch. He melted down in the final minutes, while his former teammates rose to the occassion.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they play Notre Dame in South Bend. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by RSN. Check your local listings.