Virginia Tech vs. Miami: Malcolm Delaney, Erick Green put tough game behind them to win, 72-68
Monday, January 31, 2011; 12:14 AM
BLACKSBURG, VA. - Five days ago, Virginia Tech guards Malcolm Delaney and Erick Green melted down during crunch time, missing shots and committing turnovers as the Hokies unraveled in a loss to Georgia Tech.
Faced with similar circumstances Sunday, the Hokies' back court ensured that would be a short-lived memory. Behind two clutch baskets from Green and Delaney, Virginia Tech escaped with a 72-68 victory at Cassell Coliseum despite a late rally by the Miami Hurricanes.
Though the Hokies (14-6, 4-3 ACC) led throughout the second half, Miami's Garrius Adams missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with three seconds left, and Virginia Tech emerged with its 10th win in 12 games.
"We kept our composure this time, and didn't do nothing crazy," said Green, who finished with 15 points and six assists. "It just felt good. We knew we could keep our composure. We let one slip away against Georgia Tech, but hopefully that won't happen again."
That doesn't mean there weren't some tense moments Sunday.
After Miami (12-9, 1-6) whittled a 10-point halftime deficit to one with less than three minutes remaining, Green sent a nervous crowd of 9,847 into a frenzy when he knocked down a jumper from the elbow and was simultaneously fouled by Adams. On the previous possession, Green had committed a 10-second violation bringing the ball up the floor.
Then, when Miami point guard Durand Scott (21 points, five assists) hit a jumper to close the gap back to two, Delaney followed suit, swishing a three-pointer that gave the Hokies some breathing room. Before that long-range jumper, Delaney (14 points) had been held scoreless in the second half as the Hurricanes gradually chipped away at the Hokies' lead.
Following Delaney's big shot, though, Miami would not go away quietly. Adams hit a three-pointer to shrink Virginia Tech's lead to 70-68. After Delaney missed a jumper, Hurricanes forward Adrian Thomas clanked two wide-open three pointers that would have given the Hurricanes the lead.
Coach Seth Greenberg said as those two shots sailed through the air, all he thought was, "I hope he misses." But once Adams's final attempt caught iron, relief turned to pride as the Hokies celebrated the way they held on despite Miami's best efforts. Virginia Tech never trailed after 11 minutes 26 seconds remained in the first half.
"I think the Georgia Tech game . . . that was an aberration," Greenberg said. Against the Yellow Jackets, Virginia Tech was held without a field goal for the final 6 minutes 6 seconds and committed seven turnovers. "We've been pretty good in the last six weeks down the stretch. That was out of our personality and out of our character."
Entering Sunday, urgency wasn't an issue for either team. Despite some impressive nonconference wins, Miami was tied for last in the ACC standings, with three straight losses by a combined seven points. The Hokies, meanwhile, would have seen their tournament hopes significantly damaged with a second consecutive loss.
While it was the Hokies' guards who came through late, much of the second half belonged to senior Jeff Allen. His post game kept Virginia Tech afloat when Green and Delaney struggled to score, and he finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for his 39th career double-double. Allen is two points shy of 1,500 for his career.
More important in the grand scheme of this season is that the Hokies showed the sort of resolve that will be necessary as the calendar switches over to February.
Last season, the Hurricanes were the thorn in Virginia Tech's side during its pursuit of an NCAA tournament berth. The Hokies lost two of their three games against Miami, including a first-round upset in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament after leading for the majority of the contest.
On this night, though, Virginia Tech would not wilt when such a scenario presented itself again. That bodes well as this injury-depleted group continues its trek towards Selection Sunday.
"They've learned they can win a game, that this lineup is good enough to win games," Greenberg said of his team. "How many? I don't know, but they've learned they can win."