March 16, 2011
Tech downs Bethune-Cookman 79-54 in first round of NIT
By Jimmy Robertson
Bethune-Cookman (21-13, 13-3) 243054
Virginia Tech (22-11, 9-7) 423779
  • Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va. - 2,892
  • High Points: 19 - Jeff Allen
  • High Rebounds: 8 - Terrell Bell

BLACKSBURG – Jeff Allen scored 19 points to help Virginia Tech overcome the sting of not making the NCAA Tournament by beating Bethune-Cookman 79-54 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night.

Virginia Tech (22-11), making its 12th appearance in the NIT and fifth in eight seasons under head coach Seth Greenberg, will meet Wichita State in the second round on Sunday after the Shockers beat Nebraska 76-49. The Hokies moved to 24-9 all time in NIT competition.

“This team had every reason not to show up today and yet they did – from the very beginning,” Greenberg said. “We talked about being prideful and things of that nature, but you never know.

“But this group likes to play basketball. They wanted to play somewhere today. If they weren’t playing here, they would have been at McComas [Hall, on Tech’s campus] or in the practice facility. So to steal a Herman Edwards [former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head coach] line, if you’re going to play, you may as well play to win the game.”

“It’s still on our minds,” Tech guard Malcolm Delaney said of the NCAA Tournament snub. “We’re not going to say we’ve forgotten about it. But we’re still playing basketball. That’s all that matters.

“We’re not playing to prove anything. We proved what we did during the season. We’re just trying to win.”

Tech connected on 10 of its first 11 shots from the floor and took a 23-9 lead after Allen’s basket with 13:01 left in the half. The Hokies led by as many as 23 in the first half and shot 61.3 percent from the floor (19 of 31).

Bethune-Cookman (21-13), the regular-season champions in the MEAC, was making its first appearance in postseason play since 1980 as a Division II program. The Wildcats never got closer than 10 points the rest of the game and trailed by as many as 32.

Delaney scored 13 points for the Hokies, while Manny Atkins added 12 off the bench. Erick Green finished with 11 points. Green and Delaney, Tech’s starting guards, combined for 13 assists – a career-high eight by Green – and no turnovers.

“It hurt on Sunday, going through all that,” Green said of not making the NCAA Tournament. “I didn’t get my mind off of it until Monday evening. I was in my room. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I didn’t even watch ESPN because every time I turned it on, it had something to do about the tournament. I still don’t watch it. I could care less about the brackets to be honest with you.

“I still feel hurt. But we’re going to come out and try to win the NIT. Our goal is to win the NIT, so let’s make it to New York and win it.”

Garrius Holloman led the Wildcats with 20 points.

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