February 6, 2010
Hokies use the free-throw line to claim victory over Clemson
By Jimmy Robertson
12F
Clemson (16-7, 4-5) 273259
Virginia Tech (18-4, 5-3) 294170
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 9,847
  • High Points: 30 - Malcolm Delaney
  • High Rebounds: 6 - Jeff Allen, JT Thompson

BLACKSBURG – Malcolm Delaney scored 20 of his game-high 30 points from the free-throw line, tying the school record for free throws made in a game, as Virginia Tech used a huge advantage at the stripe to record a 70-59 ACC victory over Clemson at Cassell Coliseum.

With the victory, the Hokies moved to 18-4 overall on the season, 5-3 in the ACC at the halfway point, and won for the fifth time in their past six games. Also, the Hokies remained a perfect 12-0 at Cassell this season. Clemson fell to 16-7, 4-5 in league play.

Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer coming into the game at 19.8 points per game and 85 percent free-throw shooter, hit 20 of 23 from the stripe. The 20 free throws equaled the mark set by Dorenzo Hudson against Seton Hall earlier this season and by Terry Penn against the Citadel in 1957.

The game turned into a free-throw shooting contest in part because the officiating crew called 54 fouls and in part because neither team shot it well from the floor. The Hokies, playing less than 48 hours after beating North Carolina on Thursday night, missed their first 10 shots and hit just 30.6 percent for the game (15-for-49). Clemson shot a season-worst 30.6 percent, hitting 15-for-49.

“The offenses were offensive and the defenses were aggressive,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “I don’t know how to describe it except that both teams played so hard defensively that we both set offense back a couple of years.

“In the second half, we [the Hokies] decided that we couldn’t run offense, so we spread the court and decided to drive it as much as we could. The game was called closely, so we tried to open up the court since our offense wasn’t working.”

The Hokies offset their poor shooting by hitting 38-for-46 from the free-throw line for the game, registering season highs in both categories. Delaney himself set career highs in makes and attempts and scored at least 30 points in a game for the third time this season (and fourth in his career). Clemson went 14-for-21 from the line.

“We win ugly games. That’s our team,” Delaney said. “I’m pretty sure if you look at the stats in the ACC, we’re not at the top of the offensive stuff. But we’re a scrappy team and we like playing. We also play good defense and we hit some free throws. Good teams win these types of game.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we did what we had to do to get the win and that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter how ugly it was. If we didn’t make a field goal the whole game and still got the win, that’s all that matters.

“They adjusted better to the officiating than we did,” Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. “Foul trouble has been a problem for us. I’m just very disappointed that we didn’t get the job done.”

Tech trailed 37-36 after a basket by Clemson’s Devin Booker with 15:40 remaining, but the Hokies went on a 15-4 run to take control. Delaney and Jeff Allen scored five points each in that run and the Tigers got no closer than six the rest of the game.

Allen scored 13 points for the Hokies, while Terrell Bell added 10.

Tanner Smith, Jerai Grant and David Potter each scored 11 for the Tigers. Trevor Booker, who came into the game averaging 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds for Clemson, finished with just seven points on 2-for-10 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. He spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble, playing just 23 minutes

“Our help,” Greenberg said as to the key to holding Booker in check. “We made a choice – and obviously Potter had a pretty good game – but we didn’t want Booker to get going because he’s such an emotional leader for that team. Guarding him for 23 minutes is sure easier than guarding him for 40 because that guy is a beast."

The Hokies hit the road for their next contest, traveling to Raleigh, N.C., for a Wednesday night game against N.C. State. Tip-off is slated for 9 p.m.

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

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