March 12, 2011
Green's jumper lifts Tech past FSU
By Jimmy Robertson
12F
Virginia Tech (21-10, 9-7) 193352
Florida State (21-10, 11-5) 272451
  • Greensboro Coliseum, Game #8 - 23,381
  • High Points: 16 - Malcolm Delaney
  • High Rebounds: 8 - Jeff Allen

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Virginia Tech’s Erick Green buried a jumper with 4.7 seconds left , and the officials ruled a potential game-winning shot by Florida State came after the horn sounded, thus enabling the Hokies to pull out an improbable 52-51 victory over the Seminoles in an ACC Tournament quarterfinal game on Friday night at Greensboro Coliseum.

With the win, Tech advanced to the ACC Tournament semifinals, where it will face second seed Duke at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Hokies moved to 21-10 overall on the season, and combined with the victory over Georgia Tech, won two games in a conference tournament for the first time since 1979 when the Hokies won the Metro Conference Tournament.

“I told them [his team] before the game, ‘Something special is going to happen,’” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “I really believed it. I believed it was our time, if not for any other reason other than it was them [his players].

“At about the three-minute mark, I looked at Erick Green because he was beating himself up, and I told him, ‘You’re going to make a big shot.’ We made a great pass, and he made a big shot. That was a great team win and a great program win. It gives us a chance to get to Saturday in the ACC Tournament, which is exciting for this senior group.”

On a night when the Hokies shot just 31.5 percent from the floor and got pounded on the glass, they relied on their defense down the stretch and some clutch shooting. Manny Atkins – huge all night for Tech – buried a 3-pointer with 3:04 left that tied the game at 49.

Florida State (21-10) took a 51-49 lead on a tip-in by Terrance Shannon with 1:08 remaining, and then Tech’s Malcolm Delaney cut the lead to one on a free throw with 41.5 seconds to go.

Tech’s Jeff Allen then made the biggest defensive play of the game after the Seminoles called a timeout with 25 seconds remaining. They got the ball to Michael Snaer, but Allen ripped the ball out of Snaer’s hands, and Tech called a timeout with 17 seconds left.

Coming out of the timeout, Delaney drove to the basket, but flipped the ball back to Green. The sophomore from Winchester, Va., - who had been 1 for 12 from the floor at that point – canned a jumper from the free-throw line to give the Hokies their first lead since the 17:12 mark of the first half.

“I was a little down,” Green said. “I was struggling from the field, but my team and my coach were giving me confidence, saying I was going to make a big play. I let all that stuff in the past go behind. The last couple of seconds, I got to my spot, my mid-range spot, where I feel comfortable. When it left my hand, it felt like it was going to go in. When it went in, it felt great.”

The excitement was only beginning, though, as Florida State called after Green’s basket with 4.7 seconds remaining. Derwin Kitchen got the ball for the Seminoles and drove to the corner, where he lofted a floater that went in right as the horn sounded. That set off a wild celebration, as Kitchen’s teammates mobbed him in the corner.

But the officials went to the monitor to see if Kitchens got the shot off as the horn sounded. Both teams and fans waited anxiously for roughly two minutes before the officials ruled that Kitchen’s shot was not released before the horn sounded.

That sent the Hokies into a wild celebration.

“I would have cried if we had lost that game,” Delaney said. “It would have reminded me of North Carolina when they had Tyler Hansbrough [a 68-66 Tech loss in the ACC Tournament in Charlotte three years ago after a Hansbrough’s jumper with less than a second to go won it for UNC]. But we did everything we could do to win.”

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Greenberg said of his thoughts while he waited on the officials. “I figured I would hear it one way or another. I had no idea. I was thinking we should have run ‘13’ [a defense] when we got the steal instead of running ’20.’ I love Derwin to death, and he made a tough shot. But we slowed him just enough in the backcourt to find a way to get the win.

“These kids did everything humanly possible to have a chance to win that game. For a team that’s been so close, so many times, to finally have the basketball gods smile on them a little bit, it’s pretty cool.”

Delaney paced the Hokies with 16 points, 11 in the second half, but made just 5 of 16 from the floor. Atkins scored 14 points on 4 of 8 from the floor and 3 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc.

“Manny Atkins was phenomenal,” Greenberg said. “He played so hard. He was a huge part of what we were able to accomplish today.”

James Bernard led Florida State with 11 points, while Ian Miller finished with 10. Florida State hurt itself with 20 turnovers, including six by James.

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

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