Virginia Tech 85, Miami 74
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, 1/10/01
Blacksburg, VA -- Down by 7 points early in the second half, the Virginia Tech men's basketball team blew up on the Miami Hurricanes and went on a 33-6 run to carry the Hokies to their first-ever Big East Conference victory, 85-74.
The Hokies, who scored a season-high 54 points in the second half, were led by freshman Danny Gathings with 17 points. Fellow freshman Bryant Matthews chipped in 16 points, including 11 in the second half, and Brian Chase scored 13 on the strength of 8-8 free throw shooting.
The Hokies, who outrebounded the bigger, stronger Hurricanes 37-27, were led in rebounding by Mibindo Dongo with 9. Dongo, who scored 6 points, pulled down 7 of the Hokies' 13 offensive rebounds.
The key to the game was a 33-6 Tech run that spanned approximately 12 minutes of the second half. The two teams battled evenly during the first half and were tied 31-31 at half time, but the Hokies came out and turned the ball over several times early in the second half and quickly found themselves down 40-33.
At that point, with just over 18 minutes remaining, Miami point guard Michael Simmons picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench. Without him, the Hurricanes did not have a true ball handler on the court, and the Hokies turned up the defensive pressure. A flurry of Miami turnovers and Hokie steals sparked Tech to the 33-6 run that lifted them up 66-46, putting the game out of reach with six minutes to go.
The run included some spectacular dunks. Tech's Joe Hamilton stole the ball at the top of the key twice and had solo breakaway dunks each time, including a windmill slam that lit up the crowd.
But the most electrifying play of the night, and of Tech's season so far, was turned in by Danny Gathings. Gathings had an alley-oop slam in traffic on a fast break and was fouled on the play. The dunk so electrified the crowd of 2,855 that they continued to cheer raucously through the free throw, which Gathings missed.
After the Hokies took the 20-point lead with six minutes to go, the Hurricanes applied full-court pressure and started launching three-pointers. Tech struggled with their pressure offense, turning the ball over a number of times down the stretch. Miami super freshman Darius Rice, who scored 31 points on the night, rained in some three-pointers, and the Canes were able to cut the lead to 75-67 with 2:20 to go.
But the Hokies hit their free throws and hung on for the 11-point win, their first ever Big East victory.
There were gaudy stats, positive and negative, on both sides of the ball:
Tech employed the same strategy they used in their previous outing against Villanova. The smaller, quicker Tech players attacked the basket relentlessly, using their superior speed to knife to the hoop and draw fouls on the larger Miami players. The Hokies took three-pointers at strategic intervals, making 5 of 12 (41.7%).
For the game, nine Tech players played more than 10 minutes, and every one of them scored.
Tech is now 7-7 overall, 1-2 in the Big East. Miami falls to 8-6 (0-2). Tech's next game is on the road Saturday against undefeated, 13th-ranked Georgetown. Game time is 2:00 pm, and the game is not televised.