After a comfortable road win at Campbell last Monday, the Hokies headed to Philadelphia for a pair of games at The Palestra for the Philly Hoop Group Classic Thanksgiving weekend.
The Hokies headed into their first real test with history decidedly in favor of the opponent.
Temple was 9-1 all-time against Tech, the only Hokie victory coming in the first round of the 2005 NIT in Blacksburg.
Tech simply looked out of sorts for most of the game, but particularly in the first half.
Guard Malcolm Delaney was just 1-7 shooting in the first period, and with no other scoring threat, the Hokies posted just 17 points and trailed by ten at halftime.
Forward Jeff Allen was in foul trouble most of the night, ultimately fouling out with just six points and a team-high nine rebounds.
Delaney, perhaps realizing he was Tech’s only scoring threat went off in the second half scoring 28 of his season-high 32 points in the second frame.
Despite the tremendous effort from Tech’s star, no one else contributed anything of note offensively and the Hokies lost 61-50.
Tech shot a miserable 29.8 percent from the floor in the game and got just 18 total points from players not named Delaney.
It took overtime for the Hokies to scratch out a 74-66 win over a Delaware team that refused to back down and hung tough throughout.
Malcolm Delaney once again led all scorers with 24 points including seven of Tech’s 11 points in the extra period.
Jeff Allen had a more typical effort, scoring 16 points to go along with nine rebounds and four blocks in a team-high 37 minutes on the floor.
The scoring was a bit more balanced for Tech as well, with eight points coming from forward Terrell Bell, nine from guard Dorenzo Hudson and eight from center Victor Davilla.
The Hokies also got a key spark off the bench from freshman Manny Atkins who had five points, two rebounds and two important steals late in the contest.
That’s the kind of balance Tech needs to find. They need some more production from the trio of Hudson, Bell, and Davilla.
The Hokies also need players like Atkins and fellow freshmen Ben Boggs and Erick Green to chip in a few points here and there off the bench to take the scoring load off Delaney.
The biggest concern to come from this one is the inconsistent play of junior forward J.T. Thompson.
Thompson has been downright dominant at times against even ACC foes with his rebounding and scoring ability in the paint.
Thompson also has developed a tendency to disappear on the floor for long stretches.
For 15 minutes in the contest, Thompson scored just two points, pulled down four rebounds and had two turnovers and three fouls.
He’ll have to be more consistent as the season progresses if The Hokies expect to battle down low with ACC foes much larger and deeper than the Blue Hens.
Next Up: Iowa and Georgia
The Hokies traveled to Iowa City straight from Philadelphia to take on the Hawkeyes in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Tech won the only meeting between the schools in the 2006 challenge when they won 69-65 in Blacksburg.
This is a good match up for the Hokies because neither team shoots the ball particularly well or with any consistency.
Expect a low-scoring defensive battle with both teams scoring in the fifties. It should be an exciting game that fits the style of basketball Seth Greenberg likes to see his teams play.
The step up in competition will continue Sunday when the Hokies return home to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in a rematch of a buzzer-beater from last season.
Tech will hope to exorcise that demon, especially since that loss was one of the big reasons Tech spent last March playing NIT games instead of NCAA matches.
Both games are winnable contests that would bolster Tech’s confidence and post-season resume come April, but at this point the Hokies are simply trying to win and improve on their 4-1 record.