The Virginia Tech Hokies’ NCAA tournament hopes got a huge boost Friday night as Tech beat the No. 3 seed fsu in the 2011 ACC Tournament, 52-51, in a sloppy, low-scoring game, that for at least one half set the sport back a half century.
The Hokies overcame a 10-point, second-half deficit and tied the game at 49 on a Manny Atkins three pointer from near the Virginia Tech bench with three minutes to play. The noles retook the lead, 51-49, before Malcolm Delaney hit 1/2 free throws with :41 seconds left to cut the lead to one, 50-51.
Erick Green was just 2/13 on the night, but he hit his biggest shot of the game, a long two from the top of the key, with 4.7 seconds to play to give the Hokies their first lead, 52-51, since early in the opening half when they lead 4-3.
fsu still had a shot, though. Derwin Kitchen got the ball in the far corner and appeared to hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer as the noles’ bench and about a dozen fans erupted in celebration. But after nearly five minutes of reviewing the shot, it was clear that the ball was still on his fingertips when the clock hit 00:00:00. The officials left the scorer’s table and waived off the basket, thus giving the win to the Hokies.
Aside from the thrilling end, this game was ugly; something Hokie fans have witnessed so often this season. Everything that could go wrong, practically did. Things got off to an ominous start when head coach Seth Greenberg called a timeout just 41 seconds into the game and got into a verbal argument with first-team All-ACC guard Malcolm Delaney, whom Greenberg promptly benched for :32 seconds.
Greenberg could be seen trying to talk to Delaney, but the star player turned his head away from the coach, clearly not interested in what he had to say.
It got worse. Jeff Allen picked up two fouls less than five minutes into the game, while Davila finished the first half with three fouls and Delaney was called for two fouls. The Hokies couldn’t hit a free throw, or a field goal for that matter, the entire first half. It took Virginia Tech six and a half minutes to register their first field goal and were under 50 percent from the charity stripe until Delaney hit a pair with less than a second left in the half. The finished the half 7/13 from the FT line and trailed 19-27 at the break.
The Hokies shot a pathetic 17.9 percent from the field on 5/28 shooting in the first half. They had only 19 points and two of those came on a pair of Delaney free throws with less than a second to play in the half. The 19 points is the lowest first-half total by the Hokies all season. Their lowest scoring output in a half was 18 in a 72-57 road loss to georgia tech.
The second half didn’t get off to a particularly great start either. After a quick 4-0 run by the Hokies, Davila picked up his fourth foul, while Delaney and Allen picked their third less than five minutes into the second half. It was all downhill from there.
From there, the noles pushed their lead to 10 points, 28-38, with 13:25 to play. Then, the Hokies finally found some rhythm. Tech used an 11-3 run to cut fsu’s lead to one, 39-40 with nine minutes to play and it was a decent game from then on out.
With 3:05 remaining and Tech trailing 49-46, Manny Atkins came of a screen near the Hokies’ bench and drained a three pointer to tie the game at 49. The Noles regained the lead with a minute to play, 51-49. Delaney was fouled in the act with :41 to play, but missed the first and made the second, to cut the lead to 50-51.
The noles had the ball and the shot clock off when fsu called a timeout. On the inbounds pass, Allen stripped the ball giving the Hokies the ball. Green hit the eventual game winner, but only after replays showed that fsu’s would-be game-winner did not count.
Foul trouble nearly killed the Hokies Friday night. Delaney, Davila and Allen all played with four fouls each for the critical final five minutes of the second half, which hindered their ability to play aggressive basketball. Despite that, Tech kept the game close and allowed them to hang with the noles before overcoming the adversity.
The Hokies will face No. 2 seed duke tomorrow in the ACC semifinals.