Hokies run away with big victory over UVa
By Jimmy Robertson
February 10, 2007 BLACKSBURG - Looking fresh and rested after not having played for the past seven days, the Virginia Tech men's basketball team jumped out to an 11-2 lead to start the game, led by as many as 23 points in the first half and never looked back, running rival Virginia out of the building en route to a 84-57 ACC victory over the Cavaliers at Cassell Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The win snapped the Hokies' two-game losing streak and a four-game losing streak to the Cavaliers. Tech improved to 17-7 overall, 7-3 in the ACC. Virginia, winners of seven straight coming into the game, fell to 16-7 overall, 8-3 in the ACC. The margin of victory was the largest for the Hokies over a UVa team since 1962. Tech downed the Cavaliers 92-59 in Charlottesville. "We needed this win," said Tech guard Jamon Gordon, who scored 15 points, dished out six assists and had five steals to set the tone for the Hokies in this one. "This was a 'must' win for us because we're going to Chapel Hill next and you never know how it's going to turn out down there. It was a must win for us." "It was a big win because you have to win your home games in this league," Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "But you're playing your in-state rival and we had lost three [actually, four] in a row to them. Any game in this league is a big game, but let's not fool each other here. It takes on a greater significance when it's Virginia-Virginia Tech. Our guys were tired of reading that they lost three times to them last year. "For our seniors, I thought this was important. We played them three times last year, and with two minutes to go, we had a chance to win all three games - and we were 0-for. That's a pretty hollow feeling. I think this game took on a greater significance for sure. Today was a game for the seniors. It was a game for the guys who have a little more vested in the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry." Fatigued after having played five games in 13 days, Tech used its off week to re-focus and find some energy for the stretch run, starting with a game against the Cavaliers. Their energy and intensity showed from the start as the Hokies jumped out to the big lead mostly because of some sharp shooting. They made 15 of their first 21 shots from the floor, and A.D. Vassallo's bucket with 7:21 left in the first half capped an 11-0 run that gave Tech a 36-13 lead. Despite scoring just two points the remainder of the half after Vassallo's basket, the Hokies still led by 16 at the break. Tech did most of that damage without starting guard Zabian Dowdell, who picked up two fouls within the first four minutes of the game and sat the remainder of the half. Deron Washington picked up the slack, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first half alone and Vassallo - who got the starting nod over Lewis Witcher - added nine in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, things only got worse for the Cavaliers. UVa cut the Tech lead to 11 on three free throws by J.R. Reynolds with 18:35 left in the game. But the Hokies answered by going on a 19-4 run that ended with a Washington basket with 12:10 left in the game that gave Tech a 57-31 lead. The game was pretty much over at that point. Tech's largest lead was 29 points. The Hokies held a 20-point or more lead the final 13:58 of the game. They led by a double-digit margin the final 34:49. "We were fortunate," Greenberg said. "We got these guys, just like some other people, when they were coming off their third game in seven or eight days. That's hard. They [players in general] want to play at a high level and they try, but it's difficult. Sometimes, as much as you try, you just don't play your best game. We were fortunate maybe to get them [the Cavaliers] at the right time because they're very good." Washington, a junior from New Orleans, enjoyed a terrific game, registering his second double-double of the season. He finished with 22 points, hitting 9-of-16 from the floor, and 10 rebounds. Vassallo also added 22 points to go with eight rebounds. He hit 7-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Aided by 18 fast-break points that included several dunks, Tech shot 57.7 percent from the floor. The Hokies became the first team in 13 games to shoot better than 50 percent against UVa. "I think we frustrated them with our defense," Vassallo said. "I think they were mad because they couldn't get the shots they usually get. They were bothered so much that they didn't always get back and we took advantage. We did a good job of rebounding, too. We did a good job of running. The running game came out of good defense and rebounding." Virginia failed to get anything going against Tech's defense. The Cavaliers shot just 32.8 percent from the floor. Reynolds and Sean Singletary paced the Cavaliers, scoring 21 and 13, respectively. But they combined to his just 12-of-29 from the floor. Tech hits the road for its next two games, starting with a trip to Chapel Hill on Tuesday night to play North Carolina. Tip-off for that game is slated for 8 p.m.