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Virginia Tech vs. Florida State: Jeff Allen fights off pain to propel Hokies

Jeff Allen (24 points, 11 rebounds) drives around Florida State's Jon Kreft to take a shot during Virginia Tech's 71-59 win over the Seminoles. The Hokies have won six in a row.
Jeff Allen (24 points, 11 rebounds) drives around Florida State's Jon Kreft to take a shot during Virginia Tech's 71-59 win over the Seminoles. The Hokies have won six in a row. (Matt Gentry/the Roanoka Times Via Associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 9, 2011; 12:09 AM

BLACKSBURG, VA. - Virginia Tech senior Jeff Allen isn't exactly sure how he strained his groin. The pain, he says, comes and goes. So before Saturday's 71-59 victory over Florida State, he took a couple of painkillers to help deal with the nagging sensation the injury causes.

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Those pills, it seems, cured whatever ailed the 6-foot-7 forward. Allen scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Hokies to their sixth straight win and first ACC victory of the season. In the process, he may have re-ignited hope that a team ravaged by injuries could still make the NCAA tournament.

Covered by defensive whiz Chris Singleton for much of the contest, Allen took control after halftime. After the Seminoles had cut Virginia Tech's 10-point halftime lead to five, Allen scored nine of the Hokies' next 11 points to widen the margin back to 10.

The Washington native finished the game 10 of 12 from the free throw line, part of a 34-of-37 performance by the team.

"I was just feeling hot today," said Allen after his fifth double-double in the past six games. "I went out and played hard, played through the groin injury, and we came out with the win."

Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton said Allen "took us to the woodshed."

Guard Malcolm Delaney added 13 points and shot just 3 of 10 from the field. But he had perhaps the biggest play of the game, hitting a jumper and drawing a foul after the Seminoles had closed to within four with less than eight minutes remaining.

After Delaney made the free throw, Virginia Tech (10-4, 1-1 ACC) rebuilt its lead back into double digits and never looked back. Sophomore Erick Green aided the cause down the stretch with 12 points, going 8 for 8 from the free throw line.

And while this victory will go down as the 500th for Virginia Tech in the history of Cassell Coliseum, Coach Seth Greenberg will remember this win for how the Hokies played defense.

With a depleted roster because of four season-ending injuries that has left Virginia Tech with just eight scholarship players, Greenberg decided to go against his man-to-man tendencies and played a 2-3 zone for most of the contest.

The strategy worked to perfection, as aside from Singleton (22 points, eight rebounds), the Seminoles (11-5, 1-1) never could solve the Hokies defense. Florida State finished with 19 turnovers and shot just 35.5 percent.

It nullified whatever advantage the Seminoles got from pulling down 17 offensive rebounds. Afterward Greenberg said he couldn't remember another game where he'd played so much zone defense.

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