NCAA basketball: Virginia Tech beats Florida State, 52-51, in ACC tournament after Seminoles basket is waved off

Derwin Kitchen buries what looks like a buzzer-beater over Erick Green, but officials rule time expired with the ball in Kitchen's hand.
Derwin Kitchen buries what looks like a buzzer-beater over Erick Green, but officials rule time expired with the ball in Kitchen's hand. (John Mcdonnell)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 12, 2011

GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Virginia Tech men's basketball team has had its fair share of gut-wrenching moments during its four-year run on the NCAA tournament bubble. Nothing, though, can compare to what took place Friday night at Greensboro Coliseum.

After Florida State's Derwin Kitchen hit what appeared to be a game-winning jumper as the buzzer expired, the referees went to the television monitor to review whether he'd gotten it off on time. The Hokies stood and waited together as a team for 31/2 minutes, hoping for a stroke of luck that has evaded them for three years running now.

And with one wave of the hand by referee Brian Kersey signaling no basket, the Hokies got just that and escaped with a dramatic 52-51 victory.

Sophomore Erick Green made what turned out to be the decisive basket with 4.7 seconds remaining, catapulting Virginia Tech into the ACC tournament semifinals against No. 5 Duke on Saturday afternoon. The Winchester native had shot just 1 of 12 from the floor before that bucket.

More importantly, though, Virginia Tech picked up another win over a quality opponent, a feat that suggests the team will make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007. Virginia Tech is now 3-4 against the RPI's top 50.

After trailing for the entire game, the Hokies tied the game at 49 with three minutes remaining when reserve Manny Atkins hit a three-pointer. Florida State then committed its 19th turnover of the night, but the Hokies couldn't capitalize as guards Malcolm Delaney and Green both bricked on good looks from long distance with less than two minutes to go.

But the Seminoles soon regained the lead, 51-49, when Terrance Shannon scored a layup off a miss by guard Michael Snaer as the shot clock was expiring. On the Hokies' ensuing possession, Delaney was fouled driving to the basket but made just one of his two free throw attempts.

Florida State called timeout with just more than 25 seconds remaining, but almost immediately, Jeff Allen stole the ball from Snaer and Virginia Tech regained possession. Coach Seth Greenberg then called a timeout of his own with 17 seconds left on the clock, setting up Green's big basket. Delaney, who led Virginia Tech with 16 points, dribbled along the baseline before being swarmed by Florida State defenders. He then found Green wide open for what turned out - following plenty of tense moments - to be the game-winner.

After trailing by nine at halftime, the Hokies cut the deficit to five to begin the second half, as Delaney and Allen combined for six consecutive Virginia Tech points. But the Seminoles' length inside proved hard to overcome at times, and they upped their lead to 10 when Bernard James connected on a putback slam about 61/2 minutes into the second half.

But buoyed by a barrage of Seminoles turnovers, the Hokies responded with a 11-2 run and closed to within one point with less than 10 minutes remaining. Delaney and Allen capped off the surge with seven consecutive points, and brought the contingent of Virginia Tech fans here to their feet.

The first half could not have gotten off to a worse start for the Hokies. Greenberg called a timeout 40 seconds into the contest after Virginia Tech's first pass sailed out of bounds, and even benched Delaney for a possession. By the first media timeout, Virginia Tech had committed five turnovers and Allen had picked up two offensive fouls.

Greenberg only sat Allen for a little more than two minutes, and the Hokies were able to find their footing. When Delaney got his first basket of the game - a three-pointer with 8 minutes 43 seconds remaining in the half Virginia Tech trailed by just one.

That, though, turned out to be the Hokies' final field goal of the half and they entered halftime behind, 27-19, their lowest first-half point total all season. Virginia Tech shot just 5 of 28 from the floor (17.9 percent). If not for nine Florida State turnovers, the margin could have been even wider.

As it turned out, that was only the start of Virginia Tech's lucky night.

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