After back-to-back ACC victories in the past week at home
(and who among you thought you would really be saying that in mid-January?),
Virginia Tech fans can be excused if they find themselves in that mode where
realism and hope play a tantalizing game of tug-of-war.
On the one hand, there is the excitement of seeing the
Cassell come alive, at least partially, while seeing a Virginia Tech basketball
team residing at .500 for the season in conference play. It’s watching a team
start to play with more and more confidence in their first year in a conference
that most desperately wanted to be in for quite some time.
On the other hand, it was Clemson and North Carolina State
that were the victims, both games being won by the Hokies in the final 10
seconds, while withstanding a last shot attempt by both visitors. The Tigers are
a notoriously poor road team in the conference, and the Wolfpack have performed
below expectations this season, having now lost 5 of their past 6 games. The
Hokies caught them at a most opportune time.
The Hokies won the State game with a huge late game boost
from sophomore Coleman Collins, who scored the winning basket with 12.9 seconds
and had 10 of the last 12 points scored for Tech, and by getting a huge
defensive play on the last possession of the game by Jamon Gordon, the ACC’s
leader in steals. Gordon blocked a runner in the paint by last year’s ACC
Player-of-the-Year, Julius Hodge, which secured the victory for Tech.
In this particular game, as was the case in the Clemson
victory last Saturday, many factors were involved in the Hokies prevailing but
it says here that one of the most important was this: The Tech backcourt was
simply better in both games than their Wolfpack and Tiger counterparts. Aside
from Gordon’s late game defensive heroics, fellow sophomore Zabian Dowdell
matched Collins’ game high of 20 points, doing so by nailing four threes
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