The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team earned a much needed Atlantic Coast Conference win Sunday night, as they squeaked by the visiting Miami Hurricanes 72-68.
The Hokies (14-6, 4-3 ACC), led by Jeff Allen’s 18 points and 11 rebounds, rebounded from an embarrassing road loss against Georgia Tech just five days removed.
“That’s a really good win,” head coach Seth Greenberg said.“That’s [Miami] a really good basketball team.They’re 11 or 12 points away from being in first place in the league.”
Erick Green added 15 points and Malcolm Delaney pitched in 14 for the Hokies, who had to hold on to a slim second half lead until the clock struck 00:00 to win for the 10th time in 12 games.
The ‘Canes (12-9, 1-6 ACC) lost their fourth in a row, with a combined margin of defeat of only 11 points.
Durand Scott led all scorers with 21 points and Malcolm Grant added 14 for the ‘Canes.Miami closed to within one point with 2:54 left, creating the atmosphere for a wild finish, but Delaney hit a crucial 3-pointer with 1:59 to go to put the Hokies up by five.
Green hit two clutch free throws down the stretch and the Hokies held on for the win.
“They [Miami] knocked us out of the [ACC] tournament last year, and they beat us at their place,” Allen said.“We were going to come out and play strong.I saw chances to take advantage of some opportunities and that’s what I did.The whole team made good passes and good shots.”
Coming into the game it seemed the Hokies would have a substantial disadvantage in the frontcourt, with 6’10, 303-pound Miami center Reggie Jackson clogging up the middle.However, the Hokies employed a 2-3 zone for the majority of the game, which limited the sophomore’s production to six points and 10 rebounds.
The zone also held Miami to 8-of-27 shooting from behind the arc, which is 10 percent under their three point field goal percentage season average of 39.6.
Virginia Tech needs as many quality wins as possible until the ACC tournament in six weeks, especially since the Hokies failed to capitalize on such opportunities against then No.3 Kansas State and No.22 Purdue.Even though the ‘Canes have a dismal 1-6 record in the ACC, they still hover the RPI top 50 because of garnering significant wins over Ole Miss, West Virginia and Boston College.
Miami also lost its previous three ACC games – against Florida State, N.C. State and North Carolina – by a combined seven points, meaning they could easily be 15-5 and 4-2 in conference play.Putting that into perspective, the ‘Canes would probably be ranked in the RPI top 30 and as of now be in the NCAA tournament field.
Virginia Tech began arguably one of their most important weeks of the season on a positive note.The Hokies will face two more ACC foes in the coming week – they visit N.C. State on Wednesday and Boston College on Saturday.
“It’s the second time we’re playing three games in six days, so that’s big,” Greenberg said.“This time, though, it’s three conference games, which is a little different than last week.”
Both contests will be critical come NCAA Tournament time because quality road wins in the ACC are hard to come by.A win over Boston College would look especially great on paper, as the Eagles boast a RPI of 34 and SOS of 23.
Even more, the Hokies’ following two contests are against a Georgia Tech team that manhandled them five days ago in Atlanta, and a Maryland squad who will be looking for revenge after the Hokies stifled them on their own home court 74-57.
This victory was essential to Tech’s NCAA tournament hopes, and the Hokies need to pack this momentum in their bags on the road to Raleigh Wednesday.