Hokies steal 47-45 upset in rivalry clash

Dorenzo Hudson scores six points in final 2:12, hits crucial three to upend No. 15 Virginia, give Virginia Tech first ACC win

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Three days after dropping 70 points on hapless Georgia Tech in a 32-point blowout, the Virginia men's basketball team searched all night for one big deep ball to silence troublesome Virginia Tech and send the expectant John Paul Jones Arena into a win-fueled frenzy.

Despite 14 long-range attempts, the turning-point trey never arrived for Virginia. Instead, senior guard Dorenzo Hudson nailed a corner three for a 47-43 Virginia Tech lead with 17 seconds remaining.

In a sloppy, scrappy and sometimes downright ugly rivalry game featuring 11 lead changes, the Hokies handed the No. 15 Cavaliers their first home loss of the season, 47-45.

"It was a physical game, it wasn't obviously the most smooth or offensively sound game, but it was hard-fought," coach Tony Bennett said. "As far as the three [Hudson] hit, it looked like a pretty tough shot. We were trying to close on him and that was a dagger, certainly."

From the opening whistle, Virginia Tech (12-7, 1-4 ACC) set out to stop Virginia's top offensive threat, senior forward Mike Scott, by any means necessary. Scott entered the game averaging just under 17 points per game, but the 6-foot-8 big man finished with only 10 points, his lowest scoring total since a 57-50 win against Towson Dec. 30. Scott contributed just two points on two shots during the pivotal second half.

"[Virginia Tech] really sandwiched [Scott] ... We've got to keep going to him but he really is drawing a ton of attention and when that happens, it's hard to shoot over a double team and we have to capitalize on that," Bennett said. "They did a good job defensively. I think they took away some of our strengths and made [us beat them] in other ways.

The Hokies gambled with double and triple teams nearly every time Scott received an entry pass in the low post, and the dice roll paid dividends as the Cavaliers (15-3, 2-2 ACC) failed to capitalize by finding the open man or knocking down good looks from the perimeter.

Virginia finished a miserable 1-for-14 from beyond the arc as senior guard Sammy Zeglinski and sophomore guard Joe Harris shot a combined 0-for-9 on three-pointers.

"It was just one of those nights, the ball wasn't going down for us," Harris said. "Credit to Virginia Tech. They had a great game plan defensively coming in. They really stuck with us, they made it tough to get any inside looks, they were doubling Mike and not giving up any room and rhythm looks. I think that's a large part of our off-shooting night."

Beyond the absence of senior center Assane Sene, who will miss an estimated six weeks with a fractured right ankle requiring surgery, Virginia suffered from two other offensive handicaps.

"After our Georgia Tech game, [Zeglinski] was sick, he had a couple IV's put in him, he was throwing up, he caught a flu bug," Bennett said. "But he gave everything he had, I just don't think he had quite the lead in his pencil maybe that he needed. He got some good looks, they just didn't go down."

Beyond Zeglinski's illness, Bennett also admitted that Sene's absence and the resultant lack of team depth prompted the coach to shift Harris from his natural wing position to the small forward spot and use a four-guard rotation for large portions of the game.

"We still have to adjust without Assane," Bennett said. "Sometimes your hand is forced. We're a little limited with our numbers, so we have to figure out what's best and I thought we needed some guys to score in that spot and that's why we slid [Harris] to the four."

The game started deceptively well for the Cavaliers as Scott opened the scoring with an easy layup and junior guard Jontel Evans followed by draining his first three in 15 games for a 5-2 Virginia lead.\nThe Cavaliers held the Hokies to 0-of-5 from deep and just 43.5 percent from the field in the first half but only shot 25 percent themselves while hitting one of eight from behind the arc. Virginia Tech eventually found its stroke in the half's final minutes, closing with a 10-4 run on perfect 4-of-4 shooting during the 2:47 before the break.

Virginia made just one of its final nine shots from the floor after leading 12-10 with 8:46 left to play before halftime, and only the Cavaliers' 8-of-9 free throw shooting during the first half kept them within four, 23-19, at the half.

"We couldn't hit any shots," Evans said. "Our defense was there, they just hit a lot of tough shots ... and just not being able to make shots on the offensive end is what hurt us."

The second half featured a similarly snail-like scoring pace and six lead changes, and the back-and-forth affair saw Virginia surge ahead, 40-37, when Scott slammed home a right-handed dunk off a fast break at 4:22 as the sellout crowd went berserk. But Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg called timeout and drew up a play for freshman guard Marquis Rankin, whose jumper brought the Hokies within one, 40-39.

"When Mike made that dunk I thought we were about to make a run," Evans said. "Then they called a timeout, hit a shot and were right back in the game."

After the teams traded free throws for the final four minutes, Tech held possession and a 44-43 lead with 26.4 seconds left. After another Tech timeout and with most of JPJA on its collective feet, Hudson drained his corner three and silenced the crowd and the Cavaliers' hopes for another week of improvement in the top 25 rankings. The 45 points and 32.6 percent shooting from the floor were both season lows for an already defensive-minded squad.

"This is a great conference, it's great teams," Evans said. "Anybody can beat anybody on any given night, but we've just got to regroup, refocus and play again [against Boston College] on Thursday, which is the beauty of sports - you get to play again"

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