fsu senior guard Toney Douglas hit a runner in the lane with 6.2 seconds remaining to lead the noles to a 67-65 win at the Cassell on Saturday night. Malcolm Delaney, who was guarding Douglas, tried to fight off a screen at the top of the key, but Douglas decided to dribble away from the screen which allowed him to beat Delaney to the lane for the game winning shot. The Hokies did have a legit chance to win it at the buzzer, but A.D. Vassallo’s three-ball at the top of the key hit the back iron. Game over. Hokies lose their third in a row.
The hangover from the uva game lingered into the first half of tonight’s game as the Hokies got off to a horrible shooting start. 10 minutes into the game, Tech was down 25-11. Finally, the Orange & Maroon caught fire, specifically Malcolm Delaney. As Niemo put it earlier this week, VT will live by Delaney and die by Delaney. Malcolm scored 13 of the next 22 points, but the Hokies still trailed by 10 at the break.
fsu executed their offense to near perfection in the first half. They made 8 of 19 threes, including a prayer by Derwin Kitchen as he almost fell out of bounds. Afraid he was going to be called for a travel as he stumbled (or was pushed) towards the Hokie bench, Kitchen hurled the rock toward the basket and hit nothing but net. In the end, that shot was the difference. Kitchen ended up with a career high of 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting (3 of 3 from behind the arc).
The Hokies picked up where they left off in the first half by shooting the ball well in the second, especially from three point range. The noles finally cooled down, and Tech used an 11-2 run to even things back up. Malcolm Delaney’s three pointer with 14:18 left gave Tech its first lead since 3-2. It didn’t last for long though. At the 9:03 mark, Tech held a 51-47 lead, but couldn’t keep the noles down any longer. fsu turned to their senior stud, Toney Douglas, to halt the Hokie run. Douglas scored 12 of his 22 points in the final 6 and a half minutes, including the game winner, to stun Hokie nation once again.
Jeff Allen returned to the lineup after his one game suspension, and came out on fire as he nailed a three-pointer. Allen was really hustling on both ends of the court, scoring 12 and hauling in 11 boards. A.D. Vassallo scored 15 and is now 5 points away from cracking Tech’s all-time Top 10 scoring list.
Next up for Tech is a trip down to clemson on Wednesday night to face the 13th-ranked tigers. clemson has won 4 in a row against the Hokies, including a 86-82 win at the Cassell less than one month ago. Game time is 7:30pm. TV is ESPN2.
This is all the setup you need: Virginia Tech must win this game to keep alive any hope of going to the NCAA Tournament.
BONUS, LESS DRAMATIC SETUP
Spread: VT by 3
Note: This game is on CSN+ (Channel 77) for you NOVA Comcast subscribers.
History Watch: With 20 points tonight, A.D. Vassallo will move into the Top 10 on the all time Virginia Tech scoring list. He currently sits in 12th place with 1,636 points. He will pass two Matthews, Bill (11th) and Bryant (10th), in the next game or so.
The Hokies, having just pooped the bed during their “easy” five game stretch of ACC games, now enter the murderous part of their schedule.Â In their final five games, Tech faces the #18, #8, #5, #3, and #18 teams in the RPI.Â That’s fsu, @clemson, duke, unc, and @fsu.Â Not exactly the uva and georgia tech’s of the world.Â This game coming up is by far the most winable.Â florida state is good, but certainly the least talented of the four teams Tech has left to play.Â Plus, this game is at home, and barring any last minute surprises, VT will have their whole roster at their disposal for the entire game.
The Hokies need to go 3-2 to finish the regular season.Â That might be enough to get them into the Big Dance based on the number of quality wins that would give VT.Â And if Tech wants to entertain any thoughts of going 3-2 to close the regular season, they have to win this game.Â Even if they do win this one, they will likely have to steal either the duke or unc game at home.
At Cassell: 11-6
In ACC Play:Â 2-3
Streaks: The home team has won all five games in this series since VT joined the ACC
23 – Delaney
5 – Hudson
40 – Vassallo
0 – Allen
34 – Diakite
1 – Bell
10 – Thorns
14 – Davila
21 – Witcher
33 – Thompson
23 – Douglas
22 – Kitchen
31 – Singleton
41 – Echefu
32 – Alabi
1 – Gibson
2 – DeMercy
3 – Loucks
4 – Dulkys
42 – Reid
Four things to watch for from florida state:
They are tall
They are athletic
They LOVE to shoot the three (almost all of them)
They are the Toney Douglas show
The seminoles are an odd mix — they are very young and veteran at the same time.Â They start two seniors and three players that are in their first year at florida state (Derwin Kitchen originally was slated to go to florida before ending up at iowa western community college).Â Their bench is also very young except for Ryan Reid.
fsu presents match-up nightmares for opponents due to their size.Â They will run five big men that are 6’8″ or taller at you, similar to wake forest.Â In the VT/wake game, Tech neutralized this by getting the deacon big men in foul trouble, or beat up, early.Â
Just like wake and Jeff Teague, fsu has a tremendous combo guard in Toney Douglas.Â Douglas averaged almost 17 points as a freshman and is just 35 points away from 2000 in his career.Â He is the only nole averaging in double digits, scoring 20 a game, good for second in the ACC.Â Toney is a streaky shooter from deep.Â He is currently on a cold streak, having hit just 9 of his last 36 threes in his last six games.Â Let’s hope the cold Blacksburg weather keeps his shot icy.
Even though Douglas has been struggling from deep of late,Â he has averagedÂ 23.5 ppg over those six games.Â He is tremendously quick and can beat teams up the court if the guards don’t fall back.Â He is next to impossible to stop on the drive.Â As with Rice of bc, he will get his points.Â In fact, his biggest scoring nights are often in fsu losses.Â He only had two points in a win against rival florida and the last two times he’s scored 30 or more, the noles lost.Â The key is to limit the fsu big men.
The difference between wake and fsu is the noles’ big men are no where near as talented as wake’s.Â Chris Singleton is a very athletic freshman who will be a star in this league, especially once Douglas’ shots are gone next year.Â But he likes to wander out on the perimeter and shoot threes.Â He is 24/77 on the season from deep.Â He reminds me of James Johnson of wake last year in this respect — a talented big man who hasn’t yet figured out he needs to be inside.Â On the offensive glass, or in transition, Singleton can dunk with the best of them.Â Tech must box him out.
Uche Echefu is another big man who is better facing the basket than with his back to it.Â He has also tried almost 50 threes on the season.Â While Uche is not extremely physical, he is an excellent foul shooter, hitting 83% (even better than Douglas’ 80%).Â
Soloman Alabi is a big body inside.Â At 7’1″, he can be a shot blocking force.Â His 2.1 blocks per game is #2 in the ACC.Â Most of his points will come on the offensive glass or when teams overcommit to Douglas and leave him wide open inside.Â Tech has had an issue with switches of late, so this could be an issue.
The final starter is Derwin Kitchen.Â Despite being their “shooting guard”, he is seventh on the team in three-point attempts.Â He has shot just 20 on the season.Â He is more of a what I call a filler — similar to Dorenzo Hudson.Â You have to have five guys on the court, so there you go.Â He is a decent defender.Â But he is not strong on the dribble on offense.Â He will pick and choose his shots carefully.Â
Off the bench, Dulkys, Loucks, and DeMercy all like to stroke it from deep.Â None of them shoot particularly well though.Â Reid is an energy guy to rest some of the other big men.
Overall, fsu is not an offensive juggernaut.Â They are ninth in the ACC in points per game in ACC play.Â But with their size, they are very stout on defense.Â Their 68.2 ppg against and 41% FG%-Defense are both good for second in the ACC (not good considering VT’s struggles against two of the worst defenses in the ACC).Â Â This game will likely be a low scoring, drag-it-out type game.Â
KEYS TO THE GAME:
D the 3, then Box Out: fsu attempts 20 threes per game.Â They hit less than 30% of them in ACC play, second worst in the league.Â That means a lot of misses.Â The noles don’t care since they are so tall, they are counting on getting offensive rebounds.Â Tech has given up more than their fair share of second chances of late.Â The Hokies must go out and defend everyone but Alabi on the perimeter and get a hand in their face, then find a body to block out and put a butt on them.Â Once the shot is up, it all comes down to desire — The Hokies have to want that ball.Â Despite their size, fsu actually has a negative rebounding margin in ACC play.Â Tech must out work and position the noles.
Pray for Whistles: I forget what that awful whistle rap song of a few years ago was, but whistles on Saturday will likely be music to my ears.Â With fsu’s length, you have to hope the officials call a tight game, especially on over-the-back calls on the boards.Â If the refs let them play, fsu might get a lot of second chance points.Â Plus, when VT drives, foul calls instead of blocked shots can help get their bigs on the bench.Â Let’s just hope the whistles aren’t 80 feet from the basket and on Jeff Allen.
Urgency but not Pressure: Like I said, this is all but a must win for VT.Â It is not for fsu.Â Tech has to come out and play like their season is on the line.Â They have to fight and claw for every 50/50 ball.Â They have to play with intensity.Â But they can’t stress out.Â It is just one game.Â Putting too much pressure can lead to missed assignments or forcing shots.Â Play hard, leave it all on the line, and let the chips fall where they may.
Live by Delaney: Malcolm has been in a shooting slump of late.Â If he misses his first couple of shots, he needs to find other ways to score — either by finding his runner to avoid the fsu big men, or getting fouled in transition.Â With the size of the noles inside, let’s hope he can hit an early three.
Dunkin’ Donut: Jeff Allen needs to play this game with a chip on his shoulder.Â He needs to come out and say I’m sorry to his teammates for missing the uva game.Â He will be key to VT getting boards and scoring inside.Â He has to attack the fsu big men, and if he can hit an early three, he will force them to come out on the perimeter and help open the lane for Delaney and Vassallo.
Greatest VT/fsu Moment:
The famous “Henson Heave” by Les Henson. An 89’3″ world record shot to win the game at florida state on 1/21/80 by a 79-77 score.
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