Malcolm Delaney’s 32 points and 9 assists led Virginia Tech to a huge 88-82 victory over the georgia tech yellow jackets in a very physical game in Atlanta. The win clinches fourth place in the ACC and guarantees the Hokies a first round bye in the ACC Tournament which gets under way Thursday in Greensboro. The win also almost assuredly will mean an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the Hokies when bids go out a week from tomorrow.
With second leading scorer Dorenzo Hudson unable to go due to a bad bone bruise in his right foot, the Hokies got a balanced scoring effort and actually outrebounded the much larger yellow jackets, who feature future NBA stars Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors, 38-36. Jeff Allen had 17 points and 10 rebounds while Terrell Bell came up huge with 14 points and 13 boards playing in his home state of Georgia. Victor Davila also had a nice game with 10 big inside points.
Freshman and Georgia native Manny Atkins, seldom used this season, got his first career start in place of Zo and had a solid 5 point, 5 assist, and 7 rebound performance. Manny also cut down on the turnovers that had plagued him earlier in the season.
Unlike the previous two seasons when the Hokies faced must win games on the road to close the regular season – at clemson in ’07-08 and at florida state in ’08-09 – this time the Hokies took control of the game early on. Virginia Tech trailed 8-7 at the first television timeout, but from there went on an 11-0 run to seize control of this game. The Hokies hit 8 three-point bombs in the first half, led by four from Delaney. The Hokies led by as many as 11 in the first half and led 45-39 at the half.
The second half started with very rough and physical play on both ends. Lawal was whistled for a flagrant foul on Manny Atkins as he went for a layup with just over 12 minutes to go and it turned out to be a four point possession for the Hokies after Atkins sank both free throws and JT Thompson nailed a baseline jumper. The Hokies extended their lead to 73-56 with just over nine minutes left, before the jackets started to chip away at the lead.
The lead was 80-74 after a three by Iman Shumpert (16 points before fouling out) at the 2:10 mark, but the jackets never got closer than three points, 83-80 after a Favors (18 points) lay in with 36 seconds left. However Delaney (14-17 at the line) and the rest of the Hokies were clutch with their free throws and the Hokies held on for the all important win.
For the third straight game Jeff Allen stayed out of foul trouble and had a huge presence against georgia tech’s inside players and also connected on two threes. However Jeff did sustain a shoulder injury during this game and the severity is not known as of right now, though it didn’t appear to be too serious. Hudson’s status for the ACC Tournament won’t be known until at least Wednesday or Thursday.
The Hokies are assured of the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament no matter what happens in tonight’s or tomorrow’s ACC action. The pairings will not be known until games are completed tomorrow. Stay tuned to Techhoops.com for more!