December 30, 2010
Virginia Tech posts fourth straight win, 64-53
By Marc Mullen
USC Upstate (2-10) 292453
Virginia Tech (8-4) 343064
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 9,847
  • High Points: 17 - Malcolm Delaney
  • High Rebounds: 15 - Jeff Allen

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Jeff Allen posted his third double-double in four games with 16 points and 15 rebounds and Malcolm Delaney added 17 points and five assists to lead Virginia Tech to its fourth straight victory, a 64-53 decision over USC Upstate in a midday game at Cassell Coliseum Thursday.

Trailing by seven with 5:30 left in the first half, the Hokies turned up their defensive pressure, forcing the Spartans into just 2-of-9 shooting from the floor, including 0-for-4 from three, and six turnovers. To that point, USC Upstate had hit 10-of-19 shots, 5-of-8 from three, and committed just three turnovers.

“Not having numbers to practice is killing our ability to defend for long periods of time and it’s killing our defensive transition,” said Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg. “Obviously, if you don’t have same numbers, it’s not going to be easy. If you had Allan Chaney, JT Thompson, Dorenzo Hudson, I’d think we would have more options and our practices would be better.

“We are going to have to grind this thing out. We have to improve defensively; we can’t rely on the 1-3-1 forever. We’ve got some things we’re working on. But we are 8-4, we are top 30 in the RPI, and have wins over Oklahoma State, whose 11-1, and St. Bonaventure, who won at St. John’s.”

That defensive charge helped the Hokies close out the first on a 13-2 run to go into the locker rooms with a 34-29 advantage. Within five minutes of the second, they pushed their lead into double figures when Allen scored on a lay-up with 15:34 left in the contest.

The Spartans threatened, clawing back to within five, four minutes later, after scoring six straight, but the Hokies responded with a 10-2 run sparked by a Delaney driving lay-up and capped by a Victor Davila dunk off a rebound. Davila ended with six points and five boards, while Delaney scored nine of his after the break.

“I like coming off screens, that way teams can’t key on me too much,” said Delaney, regarding his newer role as a two guard. “At the two, I am naturally more comfortable. I took over the point role because that’s what I was asked to do.

“I worked hard at it to make it work. I’ll play the five if they want me to. Either way it works, I can start the offense and he (Erick Green) can start at the two.”

Virginia Tech (8-4) jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, hitting its first three shots, but the Spartans responded with 10 straight in a three-minute spurt capped by Chandler Hash’s first three of the afternoon.

Trailing 12-9, the Tech bench sparked a 5-0 run to give the team a two-point lead as Manny Atkins scored on a lay-up and Tyrone Garland knocked down a three with 10:38 left in the first.

USC Upstate (2-10) went back on top with another Hash three that began an 11-2 Spartan run to give them their largest lead of the afternoon at seven. The Spartans, who average 7.5 three-point baskets made per game, hit three in the span and had five to that point. They finished with just eight.

“I think there are really three tough, tough games, the game before Christmas, which we won on the road, which I was real proud of, the game after Christmas and the game before league play,” said Greenberg. “These three games are why you see Tennessee-Martin almost beat Tennessee; you see Seattle beat a Virginia.

“As you look around the country at this time, you look at scores and say ‘What?’ Whether they’re home or away you still have to play them and I was pleased with the way we were able to maintain our focus and finish the game.”

The Hokies then went on their game-changing run, which included eight straight points, four off dunks from Terrell Bell and Allen, and Green scored the last four capping it off with a steal and dunk.

Green finished with 12 points, his fourth straight game in double figures and added three assists and three steals. Coincidentally, he has started the last four games and the Hokies are 4-0.

Tech scored nine total points in the last five minutes off turnovers and held a 16-0 edge in the first half and a 24-3 advantage in the game. They turned the ball over a season-low nine times.

For Allen, over the last six games, he has three double-doubles and missed in three games by one rebound. He is averaging 13.8 points and 10.8 rebounds over that stretch and has five double-doubles this season. His 15 rebounds in this contest were a season-high and the most since the 14 in the home opener against Campbell.

“He’s good, the guy is good,” said Greenberg. “He was out there gobbling up rebounds like Pac-Man.”

The Hokies will get right back to work in the New Year as they host Mount St. Mary’s on Sunday at 2 p.m. before continuing ACC action when they welcome Florida State next Saturday with a 3 p.m. tip.

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

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