FSU's NCAA tourney hopes fade in loss to Virginia Tech
WASHINGTON — So, Buzz Williams, tell us how it is you get your team to play with such intensity, wire to wire. And explain how you've managed to coach Virginia Tech to six victories in a row after what you called a "rough stretch."
"People think there's a shortcut or a secret or we found it on Google," Williams said. "It's the 'law of the farm,' you know: Wake up and do what you're supposed to do. Then do it again the next day and try to be a little bit better at it."
His Hokies sure are doing precisely that lately.
Adding to its season-saving surge in front of a favorable crowd, Virginia Tech got 20 points from reserve Seth Allen and never trailed en route to beating Florida State 96-85 in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday night.
"Our vibe is real positive," said Justin Bibbs, who scored 16 for the Hokies. "I can't explain it, but our confidence is really high."
The Hokies (19-13) bolstered their case for NCAA seeding by stretching their longest winning streak in ACC play since joining the conference in 2004-05. The current run began with a victory over FSU — and was preceded by a rut of seven losses in eight games.
"The resiliency of this team to be able to bounce back and keep fighting and go on a run like we're on now, it just speaks to everybody's character in this locker room," Allen said. "Nobody gave up or put their head down and said 'Oh, the season's over.' We just kept fighting."
In the quarterfinals, Virginia Tech will meet 11th-ranked Miami, a team the Hokies beat Saturday.
Virginia Tech set a season high for scoring against FSU, with Justin Robinson providing 18 points and Zach LeDay 15. As a team, the Hokies managed to make the same number of 3-pointers as Florida State, eight, despite 11 fewer attempts.
"We had no answer for their quickness and speed," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "Buzz has done a tremendous job with his team."
Right from the start, the sixth-seeded Hokies were out front. LeDay hit a 3-pointer on the game's first possession, Bibbs followed that up with a steal and end-to-end drive for a layup, and Virginia Tech would go on to lead by as many as 17 in the second half.
Florida State (19-13) never managed to get in front, not even once.
Devon Bookert led the Seminoles with 19 points.
Blacksburg, Virginia Tech's hometown, is about 250 miles from downtown Washington, setting up something akin to a home atmosphere at the conference tourney. Foul calls that went against Virginia Tech were resoundingly booed. When Allen hit a jumper to give Virginia Tech the first half's widest lead, at 30-19 with 7 1/2 minutes left, a chorus of "Let's go, Hokies!" rang out in the arena.
"We appreciate all those Hokies showing up," Williams said. "Maybe we can get a few more tomorrow. I think our guys sensed it."
FACING THE HURRICANES
Virginia Tech's last game before the conference tournament was its 77-62 win against visiting Miami, less than a week ago. "I'm kind of happy we're playing Miami, because you don't have to learn a whole new team again," Allen said. "It should be fresh in our heads, as far as scouting report goes."
Florida State: Bookert made a falling, buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the first half, then sat on the court, nodded and smiled. ... Its 22-point victory over Boston College in the first round was FSU's largest margin in an ACC Tournament game. ... Ranked No. 2 in the league in steals, averaging 7.19, the Seminoles wound up with seven Wednesday. Virginia Tech only had one.
Virginia Tech: Its previous season high for points was set in a 93-91 victory over Wake Forest on Jan. 13. ... Three players fouled out: Kerry Blackshear, Jalen Hudson, Devin Wilson.
Virginia Tech: Plays third-seeded Miami on Thursday.