A year ago, the Hokies knocked off the fourth-ranked Hoos in Cassell Coliseum on some late Seth Allen free throws. It took Tech just a bit longer to engineer a home upset of the 12th-ranked Hoos this time around, but Allen emerged as the author of UVA's anguish once more.
Buzz Williams' bunch battled back from a 14-point halftime deficit to force not one, but two overtime periods, avenging the Hoos' beatdown of the Hokies in Charlottesville just 11 days prior with an 80-78 win in Blacksburg.
"If you're down 14 at the half against a top eight team in the country, the number one defensive team, the second slowest team per possession in the country, that's like being down 30 to a normal team," Williams said after the game. "The change in 11 days speaks to what we've done in the last 11 days...Since that time, I think we've gotten back to our roots and what we want to be about."
Tech had to finish the game without Chris Clarke, who left with a left knee injury midway through the second half (Williams said post-game that he'll have an MRI tomorrow, and wasn't cleared to re-enter the match), and Zach LeDay, who fouled out right before the end of regulation. Yet it was Allen's late-game heroics that saved the Hokies once again, using a beautiful head-fake to sink the game-winning layup with just three seconds left in the second overtime period.
He had a monster game for Tech, finishing with 20 points and four rebounds, though it was Justin Bibbs' 16 points (including four threes) that helped the Hokies survive Tony Bennett's suffocating pack-line defense. UVA's London Perrantes poured 22 points of his own, torturing the Hokies as he has for what feels like eons now, but he couldn't come up with clutch shots down the stretch to stave off the Hokies' relentless effort.
The Hoos certainly shot themselves in the foot a bit in the second half, making just 14 of their 24 free throws. Yet the Hokies managed to overcome 17 turnovers, compared to UVA's 10, and even outrebounded the Hoos 41-38 (a minor miracle, given LeDay's absence late in the game).
"We didn't do anything different offensively...a lot of it in overtime was just scrambled eggs," Williams said.
Much like Tech's last meeting with UVA, the Hokies started things off slowly offensively. They only scored two points in the opening minutes, and went into the first media timeout down 6-2.
Perrantes and Ty Jerome both notched three pointers to stretch the lead to 12-4, and the Hokies were plagued by turnovers as they worked to cut into the lead. Only a Justin Robinson three stopped the bleeding a bit, pulling the Hokies within 17-9.
Yet Virginia's Jared Reuter managed an and-1 to give the Hoos a 20-9 lead.
Finally, the Hokies seemed to wake up. A layup by Clarke in transition followed by a pair of threes from Allen forced UVA to call a timeout with seven minutes left, and a layup from Khadim Sy capped an 8-0 run to make the game 22-19.
Perrantes made another layup, but Allen stayed white-hot from beyond the arc to draw Tech within two. Clarke made one of two foul shots, and the Hokies were within one.
Yet Sy managed to dribble the ball off his foot when Tech had a chance to seize the lead, the Hokies' sixth turnover of the game, and the Hoos responded with a vengeance.
A three from Perrantes kicked off a 13-0 run from the Cavs to close the half, staking UVA to a 37-23 lead at the half.
Sy started to find his footing a bit in the second, managing two quick layups, but he continued to struggle to consistently connect with Clarke in the inside-outside game.
UVA then got foul-happy, quickly turning the ball over with an Isaiah Wilkins foul and then sending Zach LeDay to the line for two. Robinson managed a layup to polish off a 6-0 run and the Hokies had life, down 39-31 at the first media timeout of the new half.
Tech then proceeded to go on an 8-4 run, with seven of those points coming from LeDay himself, to make it a close game once more at 43-39 with just over 12:30 left.
The teams kept trading baskets, and the Hokies found themselves down just two at the under-12 media timeout.
The Hokies continued to keep things close, but got a major scare when Clarke came down hard on his left leg, and had to be helped off the court under his own power. He ultimately returned to the bench, but never re-entered the game
Nevertheless, two LeDay free throws brought Tech within two once more, but five straight from Devon Hall gave the Hoos some breathing room at 56-49.
Bibbs responded out a timeout with a three, and two Allen free throws drew Tech within two one more time at 56-54.
Finally, Tech was able to get over the hump. Bibbs forced a UVA turnover and hit a wild contested layup. Though he couldn't complete the and-one, Ahmed Hill managed a smooth drive down the lane to finally give Tech the lead at 58-57, prompting a Tony Bennett timeout with just over three minutes left.
CIRCUS SHOT IN A CIRCUS GAME @VT_MBBall pulls the UPSET over Virginia in double OT! @JustinBibbs10 out here flexing!#MustSeeACC pic.twitter.com/whx6Y1Rs9b— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 13, 2017
Perrantes made a pair of freebies, but Bibbs managed a bank-in three to nab the 61-59 lead.
Things looked dire for Tech after LeDay got called on a (slightly questionable) offensive foul, his fifth, shortening the Hokies' rotation to an almost comical degree. Kyle Guy managed a jumper to tie the game, and the Hokies needed a timeout.
After coming up empty, Perrantes managed another lay in to give UVA the narrow lead. Allen dove into the lane, hoping for a foul, but couldn't make anything happen, and Tech was forced to foul.
Yet the Hoos missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Allen the ball yet again with a chance to knot things up. While his initial attempt missed, Ty Outlaw was able to grab a rare offensive rebound and tip the ball in with one second left, keeping fans in their seats for overtime.
Both teams came out cold offensively in the new period. Though Sy made two quick free throws, and Isaiah Wilkins answered with a layup, the game stayed tied at 65 until Perrantes made a single free throw with two minutes left in overtime.
The Hokies continued to miss open look after open look, and Perrantes connected on another layup to stake UVA to a 68-65 lead with under a minute left to play.
Bibbs then nailed a three to tie thing up once more, and Perrantes marched confidently down the floor to let time drain down. He drove straight at Outlaw for what could've been a huge layup, only for the ball to bizarrely stick on the back of rim and settle there.
"I dont think that's ever happened before," Williams said. "I've seen it happen in practice, but I don't think I've seen it happen in a game I've been involved in."
The possession arrow put the ball in Tech's hands (mercifully avoiding a jump ball for the size-challenged Hokies) with a chance to win the game. Allen worked to run the clock down, and got a clean look at a three from the top of the key, but couldn't quite hit it, forcing a second overtime.
The Hokies scored four quick points and earned a three-point lead, but an emphatic dunk from Wilkins drew the Hoos within one. The Hoos forced a turnover, and Marial Shayok managed to grab a loose ball off a miss to give them back the lead.
But Bibbs, who was absolutely unconscious from behind the arc, hit another triple to give Tech a 75-74 lead with two and a half minutes left. Perrantes notched two more free throws to grab the lead right back at 76-75, and the Hokies took their final timeout.
Yet Williams says he didn't exactly mean to call that halt; apparently Bibbs misheard his plea to "flatten out" as a request for a timeout instead.
Coming out of the (unintentional) break, Robinson missed from three, but Outlaw scored a key block on UVA's next possession. Hill then drove the lane with force, drawing a block on Wilkins for his fifth foul, and making one free throw to tie the game at 76.
Perrantes looked ready to gut the Hokies with a three, but couldn't quite make it. Nor could Shayok off his own offensive rebound, forcing a foul from Guy to give Robinson the chance to head to the line for the lead.
He knocked in both free throws, and after a layup by Hall knotted things up once more, the Hokies found themselves in the exact same situation as they did to end the first OT.
This time, Allen masterfully drove into the lane and used a superbly executed head fake to get an open layup. He used a gentle floater to give Tech the 80-78 lead, and a late Perrantes heave wasn't quite long enough — the Hokies would take the marathon game, notching a key tournament resume builder in the process.
Students stormed the court to celebrate Tech's sixth league win, and second over a ranked opponent at home.
Williams' squad has certainly been up and down in the new year, but this win is a huge bright spot as the team slogs its way through a brutal ACC schedule.
The Hokies will surely need to be wary of any sort of letdown, with a quick turnaround for a road game to Pittsburgh on Tuesday and a brutal road matchup with Louisville shortly afterward, but Tech made a statement Sunday with plenty of national observers watching.
"We're going to play three games in six days, and two of them are on the road, and your values can travel, and that's what we need to stay attached to," Williams said.