The NCAA Tournament has not been anything short of amazing this year. Getting the attention is deserves, the field of 65 has been narrowed to 16 with showings from 11 different conferences. Therefore, with no games between March 23-26, the NIT was put on a pedestal to come through with solid games as well.
On a cold Monday night, the Huskies of Connecticut came to Blacksburg, Virginia with hopes of redeeming the Big East from their weak play in the Big Dance. However, The Hokies of Virginia Tech were ready for what Jim Calhoun was about to throw at them.
Going into halftime down 35-30, Malcolm Delaney had just two points. When the superstar of your team averages 20.5 points per game and only manages to put two free-throws through the hoop in an entire half, normally a team should be worried. Not in the case of the Hokies. Big role players in Derenzo Hudson, Jeff Allen, Terrell Bell and J.T. Thompson were able to step in and fill Delaney’s void.
Hudson’s 27 points was enough to lift the Hokies past the hungry Huskies 65-63.
UCONN did show up to play however. Leading most of the entire game, the Huskies led by as many as 12 at one point during the first half. Kemba Walker had his team ready from the start with a few big time jump-shots that sent a message to Seth Greenberg that he will have his hands full all game.
Unusual for the Hokies, Derenzo Hudson was one of two Hokies with double-digit points. His 27, complimented by J.T. Thompson’s 10 were fluffed by Malcolm Delaney’s six, Jeff Allen’s eight, and Victor Davila’s eight. The Huskie starters of UCONN came to put the ball through the net. Kemba Walker finished with 18 and Jerome Dyson had 15, but it wasn’t anyone’s point total that stood out.
Malcolm Delaney may have only had six points, but played all 40 minutes of this game. Why you ask?
Nine assists. The next highest was Walker’s four.
When the ball isn’t falling, good players look to help their squad in another way. Delaney certainly figured it out. This was maybe the most complete victory for the Hokies all season with everyone contributing in their own way.
The Hokies of Virginia Tech will look to protect the Cassell Coliseum against the Rams of Rhode Island Wednesday, March 24th at 7:00 p.m. Being a home game will help the Hokies having one of the strongest fan bases in all of sports. Their 17-1 home record will be another way Greenberg pumps up his number-one seeded team to square off with the red-hot two-seeded Rams. Looks like the NIT favorites are playing with a little chip on their shoulder.
I wonder why?