Hokies beat up ’Noles
Allen’s 24 points, 11 rebounds help beat Seminoles
Playing through injury, Jeff Allen has 24 points and 11 rebounds in Va. Tech’s 71-59 defeat of Florida State.
blacksburg, va. — Virginia Tech senior Jeff Allen isn’t exactly sure how he strained his groin. The pain, he says, comes and goes. So before Saturday’s 71-59 victory over Florida State, he took a couple of painkillers to help deal with the nagging sensation the injury causes.
Those pills, it seems, cured whatever ailed the 6-foot-7 forward. Allen scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Hokies to their sixth straight win and first ACC victory of the season. In the process, he may have re-ignited hope that a team ravaged by injuries could still make the NCAA tournament.
Covered by defensive whiz Chris Singleton for much of the contest, Allen took control after halftime. After the Seminoles had cut Virginia Tech’s 10-point halftime lead to five, Allen scored nine of the Hokies’ next 11 points to widen the margin back to 10.
The Washington native finished the game 10 of 12 from the free throw line, part of a 34-of-37 performance by the team.
“I was just feeling hot today,” said Allen after his fifth doubledouble in the past six games. “I went out and played hard, played through the groin injury, and we came out with the win.”
Florida State Coach Leonard Hamilton said Allen “took us to the woodshed.”
GuardMalcolm Delaney added 13 points and shot just 3 of 10 from the field. But he had perhaps the biggest play of the game, hitting a jumper and drawing a foul after the Seminoles had closed to within four with less than eight minutes remaining.
After Delaney made the free throw, Virginia Tech (10-4, 1-1 ACC) rebuilt its lead back into double digits and never looked back. Sophomore Erick Green aided the causedownthe stretch with 12 points, going 8 for 8 from the free throw line.
And while this victory will go down as the 500th for Virginia Tech in the history of Cassell Coliseum, Coach Seth Greenberg will remember this win for how the Hokies played defense.
With a depleted roster because of four season-ending injuries that has left Virginia Tech with just eight scholarship players, Greenberg decided to go against his man-to-man tendencies and played a 2-3 zone for most of the contest.
The strategy worked to perfection, as aside from Singleton (22 points, eight rebounds), the Seminoles (11-5, 1-1) never could solve the Hokies defense. Florida State finished with 19 turnovers and shot just 35.5 percent.
It nullified whatever advantage the Seminoles got from pulling down17 offensive rebounds. Afterward Greenberg said he couldn’t remember another game where he’d played so much zone defense.
Allen, too, conjured up characteristics that can only be a good sign for the restof this season. Foul prone formuchof his career, Allen committed two infractions in the first half but had no others the rest of the way.
He said the painkillers began to wear off late in the game, and as time wound down, he was hobbling up and down the court. But Allen simply told himself to “ block it out” and continue on.
This, it seems, has turned into the motto for all of his teammates, who have not allowed the rash of injuries to slow them down yet.
Seven out of the eight Hokies whosawaction Saturday scored at least four points, and they committed just 13 turnovers. Greenberg emphasized in his postgame remarks that all this victory showed was that “for one night we could compete at the ACC level.”
But there was a sense in the locker room that these makeshift Hokies proved something against a Florida State team expected to compete for anNCAAtournament berth. Aseason thatseemedonthe verge of derailment is back on track once again.
“I’m not surprised that people counted us out,” Delaney said. “I would, too, because a lot of people went down; we’re not that deep. But we got some young guys that can play, so now when they get their chance, they’re stepping up.”