The Hokies, sans leading rebounder Jeff Allen, fell on the road to in-state rival virginia, 61-75. Allen was suspended from the game after flipping his own version of the (Hokie) bird to Maryland fans last Saturday. As a result, the Hokies gave up some serious height in the middle and were subsequently outrebounded by the cavs, 37-38.
Although the absence of Allen handicapped the Hokies, it was their poor shooting that ultimately led to their demise. Tech shot just 36 percent from the field (22/60) and a paltry 4/19 from behind the arc (21 percent). A.D. Vassallo led the Hokies with 21 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks (tied a career high). Malcolm Delaney added 11 points, 10 from J.T. Thompson and 9 from Cheick Diakite, who had another solid performance including a team-high 9 rebounds. Thompson played 33 minutes and Diakite 28 minutes in Allen’s absence, but it wasn’t enough to fill his shoes.
The cavs were led by Sylven Landesberg with 19 points, but the Hokies managed to contain uva’s 7-foot freshman Assane Sene holding him to just 4 points and 4 rebounds, though he did have two blocks. Landesberg also led the hoos with 20 points in their Jan. 10, 78-75 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg.
Tech hung tough early on, even without Allen and led 16-10 with 13:44 to play in the first half, but the wahoos came back to retake the lead. The Hokies kept it close and tied the game at 29 on a pair of Vassallo free throws with 3:45 to play. Then Tech went ice cold from the field and the hoos reeled off a 10-0 run to take a 29-39 halftime lead, which they would never give up. At one point in the second half, the cavs led by 19 points when they surged ahead 60-41.
The Hokies managed to whittle the lead down to eight with 2:33 to play in the game when Terrell Bell drained his only bucket, a trey, to cut the lead to 67-59. But that’s as close as Tech would get as the hoos snapped their three-game losing streak to the Hokies. Last weekend, the terps snapped their three-game losing streak to Tech as well.
Next up for the Hokies is a home game against fsu (20-6, 7-4), which spanked miami tonight, 80-67. The last time the Hokies and noles faced off, the Hokies won 89-80 in Blacksburg on Jan. 29, 2008.
The Hokies had an opportunity to put themselves in a good position for an NCAA Tournament bid, but with back-to-back losses to two of the worst teams in the ACC and playing their last five games against the top half of the conference, it will be an uphill battle for Seth Greenberg and company.
Tech stands at 6-5 in conference play. They need at least a 9-7 conference record to get even a sniff at a tourney bid. That means they need to win three of their final five games, beginning with fsu this weekend. Tech has Clemson on the road, which will be an extremely tough game to pull out, but not impossible. The Hokies return to the Cassell to host unc and then duke. The tar heels are virtually a lock for a No. 1 seed in the tournament and there’s a good chance that they might look past the Hokies, who have shown they are more than capable of knocking off the heels.
And of course Tech will have the revenge factor against dook which laid a serious beat down on the Hokies earlier this season. Tech closes the season with a road trip to fsu where the Hokies haven’t won since 1990 (five straight losses).
The way Tech has played the last two games doesn’t really provide Hokie fans with a great deal of enthusiasm heading down the stretch, but if they can pull it together, they have a shot to finish 9-7 and make a run in the ACC tournament.
There was a wahoo fan holding up a sign that read, “Hey A.D.! Can you spell unrated?” First, I believe the word for which he was looking is “overrated.” Second, A.D. dropped 21 points on virginia and led all scorers, so perhaps targeting A.D. wasn’t the wisest decision. Just sayin.