Virginia Tech vs. Duke: Hokies upset the No. 1 Blue Devils
Sunday, February 27, 2011; 1:00 AM
BLACKSBURG, VA. - There really was no need to explain the stakes to the sellout crowd that crammed into Cassell Coliseum on Saturday night.
The Virginia Tech men's basketball team, once again on the NCAA tournament bubble as Selection Sunday approaches, was facing No. 1 Duke. It had the potential to be just the kind of signature victory that had escaped the Hokies in recent years.
This time, though, Virginia Tech answered the bell.
Virginia Tech (19-8, 9-5 ACC) made just one of its four free throws in the waning moments, but the Hokies forced a turnover by Duke's Seth Curry with the Blue Devils down by just three points in the closing seconds. A three-pointer by senior Malcolm Delaney (11 points) with two minutes remaining ultimately provided the final margin. Delaney was just 4 of 13 from the field up until that point.
The win was Virginia Tech's third over a No. 1 ranked team during Coach Seth Greenberg's eight seasons in Blacksburg, and greatly improved the Hokies' chances of securing their first NCAA tournament berth since 2007.
"This evening was just one of those magical moments," said Greenberg, who was on the verge of tears as he made his way through the thousands of fans exulting on the court. "For this group that's won a lot of games, to have this stage and embrace it and have it not be a burden, that was pretty exciting."
Virginia Tech's key run came with less than five minutes remaining and the Blue Devils clinging to a five-point lead, the time of the game when Duke usually "imposes its will," Greenberg told his team during a timeout in play.
By the time Duke (26-3, 12-2) committed a goaltending violation on an Allen post move, the Hokies were on a 9-0 run and had taken their first lead since the 17 minute 19 second mark of the second half, 59-55.
Virginia Tech actually stretched its lead to five points twice to start the second half, but the Blue Devils responded with a 14-4 run to open their largest lead of the game, 51-45. The Hokies, meanwhile, had just one made field goal over the course of nearly eight minutes until Delaney ended the surge with a layup just before a media timeout with 9:20 remaining.
"A lot of teams down by six to Duke would have folded up and let Duke take the game away," Delaney said. "But we didn't. We buckled down and got stops."