January 10, 2010
Big second half lifts Tar Heels over Tech
By Jimmy Robertson
12F
Virginia Tech (12-2, 0-1 ACC) 382664
(9) North Carolina (12-4, 1-0 ACC) 344478
  • Smith Center, Chapel Hill - 20,581
  • High Points: 26 - Malcolm Delaney
  • High Rebounds: 7 - Jeff Allen, Victor Davila
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Malcolm Delaney returned to the lineup after missing a game with a badly sprained ankle and he did his part, scoring 26 points, but the Hokies struggled in the second half and fell to No. 9 North Carolina 78-64 in the ACC opener for both teams at the Dean Smith Center.

The loss marked Tech’s fifth straight to the Tar Heels and snapped the Hokies’ nine-game winning streak. Tech fell to 12-2 overall on the season, while UNC moved to 12-4.

The Hokies led by four, 38-34, at halftime, thanks largely to Delaney’s 20 points. The junior from Baltimore decided early Sunday morning to play after missing Tech’s win over Seton Hall with a badly sprained left ankle that he injured in the Longwood victory.

But the second half was all the Tar Heels. They retook the lead on a basket by Will Graves with 16:15 remaining and never trailed again.

UNC opened a seven-point lead with under nine minutes left and Tech tried to slice into it, cutting it to five on a 3-pointer by Terrell Bell with 7:25 to go. But the Tar Heels scored the next nine points – all on 3-pointers – to put the game away. Graves hit two of those 3-pointers and Larry Drew II hit the other.

The Tar Heels shot 65 percent in the second half and hit 55.6 percent of their 3-pointers in the final 30 minutes.

“We lost our discipline to our principles and absolutes,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said of his team’s defense. “We’ve got to play like a bunch of junkyard dogs who are going to get a stop every single possession. That’s got to be our ultimate goal.

“I’m really disappointed in who we were the second half. That can’t be. If that’s going to be who we are, then we’re not going to be as good as we want to be. We won’t be able to get where we want to go.”

“We lost that game in one stretch,” Delaney said. “We showed we could play when we play. We’re a good team. We’ve got to concentrate on the next game and prepare for Miami. But we’re going to be a good team.”

Delaney scored just six in the second half and hit only one shot, as the Tar Heels decided to commit multiple defenders on him. He hit 6-of-13 for the game and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line. He also dished out six assists in 38 minutes.

“The ankle didn’t really bother me,” said Delaney, who did not practice with the team all week. “I didn’t practice. I wanted to get the most rest possible, but I was shooting all week.”

Tech also got 14 points from Dorenzo Hudson, who was coming off a 41-point outing against Seton Hall. But Hudson hit just 7-of-22 from the floor. As a team, the Hokies shot just 36 percent.

“We got the ball in some pretty good places,” Greenberg said. “We just didn’t finish. But if we do a good job defensively, we’re better offensively. When we’re active and alert and checking people, then we become a better offensive team. That’s where we lost it.”

Ed Davis led the Tar Heels with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Drew II finished with 14 and both Graves and Deon Thompson added 13. For the game, UNC shot 53.8 percent from the floor.

Tech now gets ready for its home ACC opener. The Hokies will take on Miami at Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The tip-off for that game is slated for 7 p.m.

For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MBBall).

For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).

HokieSports Shop