Virginia Tech overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to defeat Florida State 83-73 in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies improved to 14-13 overall and 6-8 in the ACC with the win, while Florida State dropped to 16-11 overall and 6-9 in conference play.
With the win, Tech moved ahead of the Seminoles in the ACC standings, and they now possess the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the season ended today, the Hokies would be the #9 seed in the ACC Tournament, and they would play #8 Syracuse after having a bye in the opening round.
The Hokies had to overcome some serious adversity to win this game. After scoring five points and grabbing two rebounds in just six minutes, Chris Clarke rolled up his left ankle and had to leave the game. He did not return, and he appeared on the sidelines in an air cast for a few minutes in the second half. This was Clarke’s third game back since returning from a fifth metatarsal fracture in his right foot.
Tech also lost Seth Allen for part of the second half. Allen collided head to head with 7-3 center Boris Bojanovsky, and both players suffered bad cuts. Allen exited the game at the 10:21 mark of the second half with the Hokies trailing 59-56.
Sitting out for such a critical period of the game was frustrating for Allen. He couldn’t keep up with the game from the locker room while trainers worked to stop the bleeding.
“My eye was superglued shut,” Allen said after the game. “I couldn’t see anything. I heard the crowd booing, and I heard them cheering, and I was like ‘what’s going on?’…I didn’t know what was happening.”
Following a Florida State miss, Allen grabbed a defensive rebound and jetted up the court past Florida State defenders, giving his team the lead with an easy layup. He then had another huge defensive rebound on FSU’s next possession, and the Hokies never trailed again.
Allen finished with a team-high 23 points. He was 7-of-11 from the field, and made 4-of-5 shots from three-point range. He also had two assists, a steal and no turnovers in 25 minutes. 17 of his points came in the second half despite the fact that he missed almost six minutes due to an injury.
While it was Allen who played a big factor in the Hokies taking the lead, it was freshman guard Justin Robinson who played a critical role in maintaining and extending that lead. He scored on three consecutive possessions down the stretch. First he hit a layup to extend the lead to 69-66, and then he made back-to-back three-pointers from the same corner opposite the Tech bench (both assisted by Justin Bibbs). By the time his barrage was over, Tech held a 75-69 lead with 2:26 remaining. Robinson finished with 13 points in 20 minutes, and was 4-of-5 from the field.
During that stretch, Tech’s defense clamped down. After Robinson’s final three-pointer, Florida State did not make another field goal until there were 14 seconds remaining and the game was already out of reach. Though the Hokies struggled with free throws for most of the game (16-of-27, 59.3%), they did make five of their final six to seal the deal. The Hokies were 4-of-12 in the first half from the line, and 12-of-15 in the second half.
The Hokies outscored Florida State 46-28 in the second half, and they appeared to be the better conditioned team down the stretch. Over the final 7:34, they outscored the ‘Noles 26-9.
Thanks to Saturday’s win, Virginia Tech now has a winning record again. They play back-to-back road games against two very beatable opponents in Boston College (7-19, 0-13) and Wake Forest (10-16, 1-13) before closing with two home games against Pitt and Miami.
The Hokies will play BC on Tuesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 9pm, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
Seth Allen scored 23 points today. This is his 21st game in double figures this season and his team-high tying seventh game with 20-or-more points.
Allen missed time in the second half, going to the locker room with a laceration above and below his left eye. He did return.
Five Hokies scored in double-figures in the game. That is a high for the Hokies in ACC play this season and the most for Tech since six players scored in double-figures in the win over Lamar in December.
The Hokies shot 60.9 percent from the floor in the second half and 52.8 percent for the game. That is the highest game percentage for the Hokies this season. It is the highest field goal percentage for the Hokies in an ACC game since Tech shot 53.4 percent last season against Duke on Feb. 25, 2015.
The Hokies made 11-of-19 three-point field goal attempts. That ties a season-high for Tech. Tech was 11-of-21 from beyond the arc at Pittsburgh in January. The 57.9 percent from three-point range is also a season high. Tech made 12 three-pointers against Duke last season and last shot better than 57.9 percent from three-point range in a game against VMI two seasons ago, making 11-of-17, for 64.7 percent. The last time the Hokies shot better than 57.9 percent from three-point range in an ACC games was on Feb. 22, 2011, when Tech made 8-of-12 three-point attempts in a win at Wake Forest.
The Hokies wore their black uniforms trimmed in pink for Blackout! and in support of cancer awareness.
Today’s game was the Hokies’ fourth sell-out of the season. That marks the most sell-outs in a single season for the Hokies since the 2011-12 season.
Johnny Hamilton made his first start of the season for the Hokies. This was the Hokies’ 11th different starting lineup of the season.
Justin Bibbs scored 12 points. That is his 16th double-figure scoring game of the season.
Chris Clarke sprained his left ankle in the first half and did not return to the game.
Zach LeDay scored 12 points. That is his team-high 22nd double-figure game of the season.
Jalen Hudson scored 13 points. That is his eighth double-figure scoring game of the season.
Justin Robinson scored 13 points. That is his sixth double-figure scoring game of the season and his third consecutive.
Buzz Williams Postgame Quotes
On Seth Allen
“I think Seth [Allen]’s a really good player, I’ve always thought that. I think when he plays with a tight handle and a mind set to create for others, and doesn’t over-dribble, it leads to low turnovers and a high percentage shot either for him or for our team.”
On improvement of the team
“I just tell our guys the truth … I think we are a long way away from playing in any postseason tournament but I do think that winning today at least gives us hope. I think hope is maybe the most valuable thing in life, if not in sport. When you are rewarded for your work it gives you breath.”
On 19-5 run against FSU late in second half
“[FSU] is so talented. We were trying multiple things in the full court and the half court. We were trying multiple ball screen coverages, we were trying to do multiple things within our zone. [Bacon] comes in today shooting 19 percent in conference play and makes five threes, more than he’s made in their preview 14 games. They had more threes made than we had free throws made at halftime. They are ultra talented. I think that if you give any good player a steady diet of the same thing they find a way to hurt you.”
On defensive changes made in late run
“I think sometimes, when you’re anxious because you are not prepared, sometimes that anxiousness makes you better because you’re over-communicating and over-trying to do things right and that’s what we were doing in that run, defensively.”
On Justin Robinson
“[Robinson] has little-man syndrome but he’s a lot smarter than people give him credit for. I think he’s incredibly competitive … he’s built in a positive way. He’s not scared. We’re asking a lot of our freshman, that’s part of the reason they came, but when you’re fighting these fights that they’re fighting for the first time, that’s a lot at them. 5 [Robinson] is not going to back into anything, he’s going to run towards it and those were great shots that he made.”
On fan presence in Cassell
“I think the best part of today was that our fans were rewarded again. Fourth sell out. I think in some ways we’re ahead of what anybody would have thought. I would say, if there’s one category where we’re further ahead than anybody would have anticipated, it’s the groundswell of support that our program slash kids are receiving.”
Leonard Hamilton Postgame Quotes
“I thought we played some pretty good basketball for about 34 minutes, but unfortunately the game is 40 minutes. I thought we lost our composure when they started mounting a charge and we had a couple turnovers that took pretty quick shots… They turned each of those miscues on our part into baskets on their end. They got their confidence up and it was hard to slow them down. Allen stepped up and made some really key plays with his quickness. The speed with which he got to the basket and finished the plays in there … we just couldn’t pick him up and get back in play.”
“I thought they did a very good job of staying focused, even though they were behind; they kept clawing and scratching. I think both teams played hard and gave tremendous effort. I just think, during that critical period in the second half, they mounted a charge and we didn’t answer it. That’s to their credit. They’ve been cutting it close all year, they’ve had several games when they’ve been just in the same position. This game, we lost our momentum – they’ve been there so many times that they turned it up a notch and were more determined. They made the plays that made the difference of the game.”
“I think Seth Allen is a one man wrecking ball. On one occasion, I think he had three 3’s in a row when we went to our zone defense. We normally go to the cut, but at that point we had four guards on the floor, so we just didn’t make the shift that we normally make. They made us pay every time. That’s why the ACC is such a great conference. If you don’t play for 40 minutes, it’s going to be tough. The margin between all of these teams is so small now. Every team has to be at their very best… In this particular game, they took advantage of our mistakes… Every possession of every game is critical.”
“Seth Allen came and must have jumped three feet off the floor to get a big rebound. When you see those kinds of plays made, it’s not an everyday game. You see athletes rise to the occasion and roll their team to victory… He’s calm, strong, and explosive.”