“I thought watching that Georgetown game [a 46-45 Temple loss] was painful,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “This game made that game look like the [Harlem] Globetrotters were playing. This game was kind of similar.”
Except for one small difference – the men’s basketball team made a few more shots and won this game.
The Owls (4-1) defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1), 61-50, in their third game in the Philly Hoop Group Classic.
Temple held its opponent to fewer than 50 points for the fourth time in five games. The Hokies shot just 29.8 percent from the field and 3-of-15 from 3-point range. Only one Virginia Tech player scored more than six points: junior guard Malcolm Delaney, who scored a game-high 32 points.
“I like to think we’re a pretty good defensive basketball team,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “Obviously, we didn’t do much against Delaney in the second half. He was terrific, but some of it was we didn’t step out and hedge on him when he was going to step up and shoot, but for the most part, we’re getting there as a defensive team. I give Lavoy a lot of that credit. He’s a nice anchor for us to have.”
Delaney scored just four points in the first half but accounted for 28 of Virginia Tech’s 33 points in the second. He scored 15 of those 28 points with four fouls.
“He got shots,” Greenberg said. “We’ve got to get him shots and get him up the floor. It helps us get up the floor. [This loss] has very little to do with Malcolm. I know what I’m going to get out of Malcolm. We’ve got to get more out of Jeff Allen. We’ve got to get more out of Victor Davila. We’ve got to get something from those other perimeter guys. We just couldn’t score.”
Outside of Delaney, the top returning scorer in the entire Atlantic Coast Conference, the Hokies could not get much going offensively. Junior forward Jeff Allen, their second leading scorer at 12.7 points per game (Delaney averages 17.7 points per game in the young season), finished with six points and nine rebounds. He also spent the last 2 minutes, 56 seconds of the game on the bench, as he fouled out.
“Someone else has got to step up,” Greenberg said. “We’ve got to establish [sophomore center] Victor Davila. Jeff Allen’s got to stay out of foul trouble. We need those wing guys to step. Guys have to seize opportunities.”
The Owls had their share of foul trouble, too. With 15:24 remaining in the game, Virginia Tech was already in the bonus. In the first half, senior guard Ryan Brooks and redshirt sophomore Ramone Moore picked up two early fouls. In both situations, junior forward Lavoy Allen stepped up and scored.
With Brooks and Moore out, Allen scored eight of Temple’s last 19 points in the first half, as the Owls led, 27-17.
And as Virginia Tech closed the gap to within four points early in the second half at 34-30, Allen scored six of Temple’s next eight points, the last two on a dunk following a pass from sophomore point guard Juan Fernandez, to increase the lead back to 10 points at 42-32. Allen finished with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field to go with 10 rebounds. The Hokies never got closer.
“I think he’s getting it,” Dunphy said. “He’s a terrific rebounder as well. I think these guys found him for some easy baskets. The two best plays that he made for me were both in the second half – a lean in and a tip in on a missed shot. The dunks I think are great, but that’s his teammates as much as him.
“We wanted to get the ball down low to Lavoy,” Dunphy added. “He’s not only a good scorer down there, but he’s also a good passer. That was our thought. I’m not sure we always took advantage of that, though.”
Allen credited Fernandez and his guards’ abilities to get into the lane for opening up his shots.
“It’s not something you prepare,” Fernandez said. “It’s just something that happens as the game goes on. I know that Craig [Williams] likes to pop out [to the 3-point line] all the time, and Lavoy likes to go to the basket. I’m still trying to get to know these guys. I’m still trying to figure out where they feel comfortable with me getting them the ball. I wasn’t making shots when I was going into the lane, so I was trying to find the open guy, and he was the open guy.
“But I like those dunks,” he added.
For his part, Greenberg complimented Allen’s balance and compared him to University of North Carolina senior forward Deon Thompson.
“He’s just a good player,” Greenberg said.
Allen will get his chance to show that again tomorrow, as the Owls return to action at the Palestra against Big East Conference opponent Saint John’s, which upset Siena earlier tonight.
Game Notes: Virginia Tech was making its first ever trip to the Palestra…The Hokies and the Owls were both members of the Atlantic Ten Conference from 1995-2000…Delaney and Allen are the No. 2 returning scoring combo in the ACC this season…Temple increases its lead in the all-time series by a 10-1 margin.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.