The Magnificent Seven rolled to victory, 59-43, against georgia tech on Thursday. Virginia Tech did what they had to do — take care of business and win on Day 1 of the ACC Tournament (which consequently is Day 14 of the Big East UEFA Cup round robin double elimination Tournament — I haven’t seen a tournament this confusing since Base-ketball) in a near Bear Fight at the Greensboro Coliseum . The Hokies locked up their 20th win of the season, and 10th ACC win. The current senior class is now 11-1 in tournament openers (3-1 at the ACC Tournament).
In what was Paul Hewitt’s final game as coach of georgia tech, the jackets laid an egg. The Hokies played like a team on a mission to get to the NCAA Tournament (where was this last week???) and sent the jackets, along with most of the crowd, home early.
The Hokies dominated this game from the start. Tech jumped out to an 8-0 lead and pushed it to 15-2 shortly thereafter. The yellow jackets had their fans feeling yellow — they had just 2 points 7 minutes into the game. A Terrell Bell triple blew the doors open with 8 minutes to go in the first half, putting the Hokies up 27-9. VT got 7 points each early from Delaney and Green (who struggled mightily in Atlanta against gt) to build the lead. Tech led by as many as 18 in the first half, and after a sluggish start for both teams offensively in the second half, VT leaped out to a 20-point lead five and a half minutes into the second half. When I say this game was all Hokies, I mean it was ALL HOKIES.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, YES, the stat of stats held true: for the 15th straight VT game, the team that shot a higher percentage from 3-point range won. georgia tech couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat tonight. They shot just 22% from deep (5/23) while the Hokies knocked down 27% (4/15). georgia tech started just 3/21 from behind the arc and that sunk their ship. Shumpert, who had a triple-double in Atlanta and 27 points in B’burg, finished with a pedestrian 12 points, 4 steals, 2 assists, and 1 rebound. And Brian Oliver, who torched the Hokies in the gt win in Atlanta, did play for the first time in over a month tonight but was just 1/8 from the field.
VT shot 47% for the game compared to just 32% for the jackets. The jackets, a poor shooting team on average, had no answer for the VT 2-3 zone (which they stayed in the entire game). Tech also dominated tech in the paint as expected — beating gt 28-14 in points in the paint. The Hokies even got 9 points from their ‘scholarship’ bench (all two of them) — Atkins had 6 while Garland had 3 — and Paul Debnam also added a free throw in garbage time.
The good news is this: Malcolm Delaney’s shot looked good tonight for the first time in a while, and Jeff Allen still had that sweet, sweet mid-range jumper. The two combined to shoot 10/17 from the floor (a low shot total but I’ll take the efficiency). Delaney tallied 15 points, 4 assists, and 2 steals on the night while Allen added 14 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season and 45th of his career. Erick Green added a solid 11 points to give three Hokies double figures. Bell and Davila had just 9 combined points, but it didn’t matter tonight.
Tales of Jeff Allen’s demise were greatly exaggerated — the senior had 6 points and 8 rebounds at the break in 17 minutes. The 8 rebounds matched in a half what he produced all of last week in 2 games. Delaney led the Hokies at the break with 11 points and 4 assists, plus chipped in 2 of VT’s 8 steals.
VT exploded to a 55-31 lead with 8 minutes to go, and largely ‘iced the puck’ the rest of the game. In fact, georgia tech had averaged less than a point per minute for most of the first 35 minutes. VT scored just 2 points from the 8:23 mark of the second half to the 1:18 point, but it didn’t matter. The game was for the birds.
The jackets, meanwhile, did one of two things on offensive early on: supply another brick for a house, or turn the ball over. georgia tech shot just 23% in the first half, while the Hokies hit 50% of their shots. If it hadn’t been for Glen Rice Jr., who was banking in more shots than Minnesota Fats, georgia tech might have been in single digits at the break. He had 8 points, while star Iman Shumpert was largely invisible with just 5 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 0 rebounds, well below his triple-double (and near quadruple-double) against VT in Atlanta.
The only scare of the first half was, after building a 30-11 lead on a Tyrone Garland 3-point play, georgia tech went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 30-19 and had a couple of shots to get within single digits. The Hokies were scoreless for almost 5 minutes, including 3 missed free throws by Delaney. But Tech went on a 6-0 run to close the half and led 36-19 at the half.
The Hokies return to action on Friday night at the same time (~9:20 PM) against the #3 seed florida state seminoles… oh, and Chris Singleton might play after all (but I doubt it). Win, and the Hokies are assured a NCAA Tournament bid (I think). Lose, and look out fingernails on Sunday.