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February 11, 2010

Delaney and Hudson now share FT mark

By: Jimmy Robertson

Malcolm Delaney has done a great job of scoring from both the field and the free-throw line this season.
On a cold, snowy afternoon when both teams were frigid from the floor at Cassell Coliseum, Malcolm Delaney took it upon himself to provide some warmth.

Delaney heated up things at the free-throw line just enough to enable the Hokies to pull away from Clemson for a critical 70-59 victory on Feb. 6. The victory enabled the Hokies to remain a perfect 12-0 at home on the season.

Delaney made 20 of his 23 free-throw attempts, setting career highs in both categories. His 20 free throws tied a school record held by teammate Dorenzo Hudson, who made 20 against Seton Hall earlier this season, and by Terry Penn, who made 20 against the Citadel in 1957.

“I’m just confident,” said Delaney, who leads the ACC in free throws and free-throw attempts. “I don’t bounce the ball. I don’t think a lot at the free-throw line. A lot of people think too much. I just spin it and shoot.”

He and the Hokies combined to hit 38-for-46 from the stripe against the Tigers, easily season highs for Tech. The Hokies’ stellar free-throw shooting offset an evening in which they missed their first 10 shots from the floor, shot 15.4 percent in the first half and just 30.6 percent for the game.

“We win ugly games. That’s our team,” said Delaney, who scored 30 points to lead Tech. “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 games.

“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.”

Delaney’s previous career high for made free throws was 14, which he hit against Miami on Jan. 13. His career high for attempts came in 2008 when he shot 18 in a game against Georgia Tech.

More impressively, Delaney took Clemson star Trevor Booker – a post player – out of the game. On two occasions, Booker got caught up in a switch and found himself guarding Delaney. Delaney faked a shot and got Booker up in the air, and he drew the contact. He drew fouls on Booker both times and Booker spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble.

“I took it upon myself to get Booker in foul trouble,” Delaney said. “I shot one 3 and he almost jumped from the free-throw line to block it. I decided then I was going to pump fake. I try to out-smart people.”

The victory left Tech at 18-4 at press time (Feb. 9). But more importantly, it marked the Hokies’ first win this season over a team ranked in the top 50 of the Ratings Percentage Index – a barometer the NCAA selection committee often uses for selecting teams to the Big Dance.

JT leads Hokies past UVa

Delaney scored 27 points in Tech’s win over UVa, but JT Thompson was the guy who led the Hokies to a 76-71 overtime victory in Charlottesville.

Seeing extensive minutes because of Jeff Allen’s ejection – Allen was ejected with 13:41 remaining after a flagrant foul – Thompson tied his season high with 17 points, with 15 of those coming in the second half. He made 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

“When another player goes down, another player has to step up,” Thompson said. “That’s what a team is and that’s what players had to do. I’m a guy who tries to bring energy and that’s what I was trying to do out there. When I saw Jeff go out, I knew I had to step it up.”

“JT was so tough and so determined,” Greenberg said. “It was good to see him play that way because we’ve been missing that. That’s a piece we’ve been missing.”

Tech rallied from double-digit deficits in each half and then dominated the overtime session. The Hokies scored the first five points and never looked back. The Cavaliers made just two baskets in the overtime period – 3-pointers by Sammy Zeglinski and Jeff Jones – but missed their other four attempts from the floor and turned the ball over twice.

“We’ve really tried to tell our guys to enjoy overtime,” Greenberg said. “You’ve got five more minutes to play in this environment, in this atmosphere. You’ve found so many ways to get back in the game twice. Just stay with it and trust each other and support each other and that’s what they did.”

Bell’s career night

Terrell Bell tied his career high with 13 points to play a large role in the Hokies’ upset victory over No. 23 Miami on Jan. 12. All 13 of his points came in the first half, as Tech sprinted out to a 35-point lead. He hit a 3-pointer with 2:43 to go in the first half and added a basket with 2:16 remaining to give the Hokies their biggest lead, 48-13.

Bell also scored 13 points earlier this season in a victory over Iowa. Against Miami, he went 5-for-6 from the floor. He had never hit more than one 3-pointer in a game in his career, but connected on all three of his attempts – all in the first half.

“It was huge,” Bell said on how the basket looked to him in this game. “I can’t explain it. It felt really good, but I just want to stay focused and hit those shots in the next game.”

Bell also grabbed eight rebounds against the ’Canes, which tied a career high as well. He recorded eight rebounds against both UNC Greensboro and VMI earlier this season.

Hudson with first game-winner

Dorenzo Hudson continued his breakout season by hitting the game-winning lay-up with five seconds to go to help the Hokies knock off BC on Jan. 23 at Cassell Coliseum.

Tech forced a jump ball with 21 seconds left and the possession arrow pointed in favor of the Hokies. Following a timeout, Tech worked the ball inside to Victor Davila, who went up for a shot, but was stripped. Hudson grabbed the loose ball and laid it in with five seconds to go.

“I was just in the right spot at the right time,” Hudson said. “We tried to get the ball into Victor and he made a move, but he got it [the ball] hit off his knee and I was there for the lay-up.”

Hudson carried the Hokies on a day when Delaney struggled from the floor. Hudson scored a game-high 18 points, hitting 7-of-15 from the floor (1-of-4 on 3’s) and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line. Delaney had 13, but hit just 4-of-15 from the floor.

Allen adds to double-double totals

Jeff Allen made a major contribution in the Miami victory with a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

The double-double marked his fifth of the season – which easily leads the team – and the 24th of his career. Among current ACC players, only Clemson’s Trevor Booker has recorded more double-doubles (32).