Virginia Tech's Manny Atkins (25) and Georgia Tech's Kammeon Holsey (24) battle for a loose ball in the first half. ROBERT WILLETT - firstname.lastname@example.org
GREENSBORO -- Virginia Tech’s seniors, who have never been to the NCAA tournament, played Thursday night like they’re desperate to get in.
Senior guard Malcolm Delaney scored 15 points and senior forward Jeff Allen added 14 in a 59-43 defeat of Georgia Tech in the final first-round game of the night at the ACC tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Hokies scored 15 of the first 17 points and led 30-11 after 13 minutes in the blowout.
Although the win over the ACC’s No. 11 seed won’t impress the tournament that selects the NCAA tournament, it gave Virginia Tech a chance for a bigger win this evening. The Hokies will play No. 3 seed Florida State at about 9:30 tonight in a game that could be much more significant for their NCAA hopes.
Meanwhile, if Paul Hewitt was coaching his last game at Georgia Tech, he couldn’t have picked an uglier way for his career to end. Hewitt, in his 11th year and seven years removed from a trip to the NCAA championship game, has posted losing records in three of the past four seasons.
His team was overmatched from the start against a Virginia Tech team whose defensive strategy helped win the game and added to the injury-riddled Hokies’ hopes of staying fresh for a long stay at the tournament.
Virginia Tech (20-10) opened the game in a 2-3 zone that conserved players’ energy and protected Allen’s tender on a team that’s using a seven-player rotation.
The Hokies are battling injuries and announced Wednesday night that freshman forward Jarell Eddie of Charlotte has been suspended for the remainder of the season in response to an incident that occurred Feb. 15 in Blackburg, Va.
Eddie was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana on Feb. 15, according to court records in Montgomery County, Va.
But Greenberg hasn’t used the team’s depleted roster as an excuse. Erick Green and Victor Davila have emerged as major contributors with Dorenzo Hudson and J.T. Thompson sidelined by injury.
And on Thursday night, the Hokies were focused and effective for the entire game. Delaney scored 11 in the first half as Virginia Tech built a 36-19 halftime lead. Allen added 11 rebounds to go with his points, and Green scored 11 points.
The Hokies’ defense held out-of-sync Georgia Tech to 32.1 percent from the field, and Virginia Tech advanced easily.