It was another close one in the ACC tonight as the Hokies pulled out a 76-71 win over the yellow jackets. Malcolm Delaney once again led the way with 23 points, followed by A.D. Vassallo with 18, Jeff Allen with 15, and Cheick Diakite with a season-high 10 points.
Not to fuel Niemo’s ego, but he was dead on with his preview. Once again, the Hokies struggled mightily defending the low post as the other tech’s big men Gani Lawal and Alade Aminu combined for 36 points, which included a handful of uncontested dunks. The Hokies did a little better in the second half defending the paint after switching to a 2-3 zone, but it was pretty tough to watch in the first half.
On the other hand, the Hokies did a great job in forcing the jackets into some bad mid-range and perimeter shots in the first half. The jackets shot just 39% from the field, and a big fat goose egg from three range (0/6) in the first half. Tech scored 76 points despite their third-worst shooting outing of the season, just 37% for the game.
The Hokies never trailed in this game, though the jackets did keep it close. Tech took an early 17-10 lead, but ga tech kept pace throughout the first half until the final three minutes. The Hokies were clinging to slim one-point lead, 30-29, after a monster dunk by ga tech’s Aminu. But following a timeout, the Hokies closed the first half with an 11-2 run, capped by a buzzer-beating layup by Delaney that sent the Hokie faithful into a frenzy. Tech led 41-31 at the half.
The second half saw the Hokies pull ahead by 13 points before they pulled their trademark second-half scoreless drought, allowing the jackets to close the game to just 3 points with a 10-0 run. Tech led 50-37 before going without a point for 4 minutes, 33 seconds.
Diakite broke the scoreless stretch with an emphatic dunk that sparked the Hokies to another run to push their lead back to a dozen. The jackets got within three twice in the final 1:30, but Tech managed to hold them off thanks to Delaney and Hank Thorns, who went 6/6 from the free throw line.
Things did get a little too interesting in the final minute of the game when the Hokies had a difficult time inbounding the ball. At one point, Tech had to call back-to-back timeouts, and on a third attempt to inbound, got called for a five second violation.
Next up for the Hokies is a road trip to College Park on Saturday, Feb. 14, to take on the maryland terrapins (15-8, 5-6). The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tipoff and will be broadcast on Raycom Sports.