Coming off only its second loss of the season, the Virginia Tech basketball team wasted no time in disposing of the Miami Hurricanes Wednesday night in Blacksburg.
Thanks to a 50-23 lead at halftime, the Hokies (13-2, 1-1) cruised past Miami in Cassell Colisieum, winning by a score of 81-66.
Tech made seven three-pointers in the first half, including three from Terrell Bell. The Hokies shot 62.1 percent from the field in the first half; the first time Miami (15-2, 1-2) had allowed a team to shoot that well in a half since the Hokies shot 61.5 percent in Miami last season.
The early offensive onslaught was somewhat surprising, considering the Hurricanes entered the game with the ACC’s best scoring defense, allowing an average of 58 points per game.
“Miami is a really good basketball team,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said, “they are going to beat a lot of teams in the ACC.”
As well as the Hokies shot the ball from the floor, Miami shot that poorly. The Hurricanes were 7-of-26 from the field in the first half.
Miami started the game defensively in a 2-3 zone, against which Tech would take a 20-5 lead before coach Frank Haith switched to a man defense.
“Tonight, our defense let us down,” Haith said.
As easy as the Hokies made the game look in the first 20 minutes, Miami gave Tech all it could handle to close the deal. Trailing 62-34 with 14:03 to play, the Hurricanes went on a 15-2 run to come within 15 points with eight minutes to play, their smallest deficit since the 10:48 mark of the first half.
“It’s human nature to get a little passive (with such a big lead),” Greenberg said, “it was probably my fault.”
Following a media timeout with 7:38 remaining, the Hokies inbounded the ball from behind their own basket. Advancing the ball quickly up the floor, Jeff Allen caught a pass just below the foul line and, without hesitation, crafted a perfectly placed behind-the-back pass to an open J.T. Thompson, who finished the play with a two-handed dunk.
“I told the guys in the huddle (during the timeout) to attack and be confident. I didn’t draw up the behind the back pass though,” Greenberg said, hinting at a grin.
After that play, which brought the Tech faithful to their feet again, Miami never came within less than 14 points of the lead.
For the first time in over a month, the Hokies played in front of a nearly packed home crowd. The energy created by the electric crowd aided the Hokies in shutting down a Miami team that entered the game ranked 72nd in the country according to realtimerpi.com.
Malcolm Delaney lit up the Miami defense for 28 points. It was the eighth time this season he has topped 20 points in a game.
The Hokies shooting percentage dropped to 29.2 percent in the second half, and they failed to make another three-point shot.
It was the second straight game where Tech struggled to make shots in the second half. On Sunday, the Hokies surrendered a 38-34 halftime lead to 13th-ranked North Carolina on the road, losing 78-64.
The 27-point lead at the break over a conference foe was the largest in the Hokies six seasons as a member of the ACC.
Miami freshman guard Durand Scott finished the game with eight points and two assists. Scott entered the game leading all ACC freshmen with 4.4 assists per game. He made several plays in the second half that the crowd, and Greenberg, argued that he committed a traveling violation.
Instead of contemplating the situation with the officials, he turned to an unusual source for advice. His wife, unable to attend the game due to illness, gave her husband a troll doll to keep in his pocket during the game.
After a particularly questionable call in the coach’s eyes, he took the troll out of his pocket. He even named the purple-haired doll.
“I asked ‘Mike’ if he could tell me why there was no foul,” Greenberg said.
While the three-inch tall cartoon figure may not be able to help Greenberg get more calls, maybe he has found a new good luck charm?