Blacksburg, VA — The Virginia Tech Hokies (25-8) advanced to the third round of the National Invitation Tournament by defeating the uconn huskies 65-63 at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg. The Hokies now have 25 wins, which ties the school record set in 1995-1996, when Virginia Tech last won the NIT. Tech’s junior guard Dorenzo Hudson powered the Hokies’ offense with 27 points. Surprisingly, Hudson also led VT with seven rebounds.
It was a good thing Hudson was on his game tonight because Tech’s leading scorer, Malcolm Delaney, struggled to score for the second game out his last three. The junior from Baltimore had only six points, two of which were free throws. Delaney shot just 2 of 14 and missed all five of his three-point attempts. He did, however, feed Hudson off a curl for the game-winning basket, and he played hard the whole game – just couldn’t get his shot to go.
Jeff Allen, another junior, also struggled, despite not being in foul trouble. Allen also had six points, but only three rebounds, well below his season average. Like Delaney, though, he came up big when it mattered, blocking a uconn shot with five seconds left that would have given the huskies the lead.
JT Thompson was the only Hokie other than Hudson to score in double figures with 10. Victor Davila, a sophomore, had eight points, four of which were huge free throws in the final two minutes to keep the Hokies within striking distance.
Both coaches received technical fouls for mouthing off the officials. Seth Greenberg, Tech’s seventh-year head coach, got T’d up in the first half after expressing his frustration with several no-calls including several goal-tending calls against uconn that were not called.
Calhoun picked up his technical about five minutes into the second half after the Hokies took a 38-37 lead and uconn’s Stanley Robinson got called for an offensive foul for elbowing Malcolm Delaney in the face. Calhoun disagreed and quietly said something to the official who immediately T’d him up.
The Hokies struggled mightily in the first half and looked out of sync. They committed seven turnovers and trailed by 12 points, 28-16, with 5:28 to play in the half. However, Tech mustered a late run scoring 14 points in the final five minutes, including a halftime buzzer beater three-pointer by JT Thompson, just his third three of the season. JT’s shot pulled the Hokies within five at the break, 30-35.
Tech came out strong in the second half with an 11-2 run to take the lead, 41-37. From that point on, it was a dog fight that featured two ties and nine lead changes.
Tech gave back it’s lead and uconn eventually led by five, 50-45, at the midway point of the second half. However, the Hokies never let the huskies pull away and kept within striking distance. Trailing by three, 61-58, with 1:58 to play, Davila made a pair of free throws to pull Tech within one. A minutes later, Davila did it again to draw tech within one again, 63-62, which would prove key because Hudson came of a screen and hit a pull-up jumper with :14 left to put the Hokies ahead for good, 64-63.
uconn had a chance to take the lead with 11 seconds left, but Jeff Allen blocked Kemba Walker’s attempt with :05 left and Gavin Edwards missed a layup with :01 left before Terrell Bell pulled down the rebound and was fouled. Bell missed the his first free throw and was told by Greenberg to miss the second with :00.7 left, but instead, Bell accidentally made the free throw giving uconn one last shot for a miracle, but the long shot fell short and the Hokies won 65-63.
Tech returns home Wednesday night to host rhode island, which beat nevada tonight 85-83, in third-round NIT action. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Virginia Tech is 17-1 at home this season – its only loss was a double-overtime defeat to maryland.