Two historic games in VT hoops history took place on this date, both in the Cassell. One, a difficult loss against #1 team in the nation (umass) when Tech was also ranked in the Top 10, and the other a very satisfying win over #7 duke in Tech’s first year in the ACC. Here’s a look back…
2005 – VT 67, #7 duke 65
- This is one of my favorite Hokie wins ever. Why? Because in the first meeting just 19 days earlier at Cameron Indoor (Tech’s first ever ACC game against duke), the Hokies were called for 33 fouls. 33! The blue devils shot 49 free throws. But Coach Greenberg sent a clear message – we would not just lay down in the ACC and take it on the chin. Coach got ejected in the second half, beside himself at the pro-duke officiating. And we all loved it. duke won the day (100-65), but we had our pride.
- Enter duke to the Cassell less than three weeks later…
- A rag-tag bunch of Hokies, that included NFL Tight End Jeff King, battled the devils all night tooth-and-nail all night, taking on 5 future NBA players (local boy J.J. Redick, Shelden Williams, Daniel Ewing, Shavlik Randolph, and DeMarcus Nelson) and a future Obama aid, Reggie “Teabag” Love.
- The game went back and forth, with Tech leading most of the first half, including by as many as 8. duke took a 36-35 lead at the break and led 48-41 with 13 minutes to go, but VT battled back and took a 58-54 lead thanks to a 7-0 run with 7 minutes to go. J.J. Redick hit a 3 with 28 seconds left to put duke up 65-64. That set the stage for one of the biggest shots in VT history…
- Zabian Dowdell hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to put the Hokies up, and Daniel Ewing missed two shots in the closing seconds, sending seemingly the entire arena onto the floor.
- The Redicks would whine after the game that fans were taunting them after the game from on the court and they couldn’t leave. The story goes that Weaver told them to shut up (love it!). Although opponent seating in the ACC would change forever after that game, with opponents’ seats protected from other fans entering them (you’ll notice it at all ACC games now — you’re welcome).
- Carlos Dixon led VT with 18, Jamon Gordon 17, Coleman Collins had 14, and Dowdell 11. Jeff King had 7 points and 4 rebounds in his best career game.
- Random fact – my sister had a friend that was a duke fan. He predicted VT would never beat duke, and if they did, he’d get a tattoo of her choice on his rump. It took us two tries. He never paid up. Jerk.
1996 – #1 umass 74, #10 VT 58
- This was the biggest Hokie regular season home game of the 1990s. Tech came into this #10 in the nation, 19-2 on the season, and less than a year removed from a NIT title.
- Students camped out for five-plus days to get tickets to this game. I know, because I was there. And this was mid-February in Blacksburg. It was in the twenties most nights, including an ice storm one night. No one left their tents. It looked like a Shanty town. After 5 days of camping out, I got tickets in the very last row of the Cassell. Maybe I should have camped out 6 days.
- umass was 24-0 when they headed to Blacksburg. They had already beaten kentucky, maryland, florida, wake, bc, gt, nc state, syracuse, memphis, and pittsburgh (wow!). Oh, and John Calipari was their coach. They featured Marcus Camby, Donta Bright, Dana Dingle, and Edgar Padilla.
- Well, the minutemen were too much for the Hokies. Tech trailed by just 5 at the break, and the Hokies did make a nice run in the second half, but umass pulled away and won easily 74-58 behind 31 from Camby. Ace Custis was just 3/13 in the game for 7 points. Damon Watlington led the Hokies with 17.
- The announced attendance was 10,052, almost 200 more than capacity. I bet there were 11,000 in there.