It took 112 games, but Jeff Allen finally went a game in his Virginia Tech career without committing a foul in the Hokies’ 64-53 victory over USC Upstate. Tech’s senior forward finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season, to lead the Hokies (8-4) to their fourth straight victory after a 4-4 start.
After starting the game on a 7-0 run, Tech hit just three of their next 15 shots and found themselves down by as many as seven at 25-18. Upstate's zone defense gave Tech fits and forced the Hokies to take shots from outside the arc, where they hit just 2-of-11 in the first half. Down by seven, Tech changed its defense to a 1-3-1 trap zone, which forced Upstate into seven turnovers and 2-of-9 shooting in the final five minutes of the half. The Hokies took advantage, ending the half on a 16-4 zone, including eight fast break points to take a five-point advantage into the break.
In the second half, the Hokies changed their approach, attacking Upstate's zone with Jeff Allen down low, while opening up a 10-point advantage five minutes into the half. However, Tech went four minutes without scoring allowing the Spartans to creep within five. After a Seth Greenberg timeout, the Hokies went on a 10-2 run to open up a 13-point lead and put the game away.
Tech forced 18 Spartan turnovers, while only committing nine of their own, leading to a 24-3 edge in points off turnovers. Playing in their second game with just eight scholarship players, Allen, Erick Green, and Malcolm Delaney combined for 45 of Tech’s 64 points, with Delaney contributing 17 on 6-of-13 shooting. Green added 12 to continued his stellar play since becoming a starter, scoring in double figures without committing a turnover for the fourth straight game. The sophomore point guard has not turned the ball over since the first half of the UNC-Greensboro game on November 22, a stretch of 7.5 games.
Upstate came into the game as the second worst shooting team in the nation, but shot 43 percent from the field, including 8-of-21 from three to keep them in the game. Freshman Torrey Craig was the lone Spartan to finish in double figures with 12 points.
Obviously, an 11-point win over a 2-10 team is not what Seth Greenberg expected, but he has to be happy that his team didn’t lose complete focus after the holiday break. Tech returns to action Sunday at 2 p.m. against Mount. St. Mary’s.