Virginia Tech just beat Miami to close out the regular season Saturday. The Hokies will get another shot at the Hurricanes in the ACC tournament quarterfinals after dispatching Florida State 96-85 Wednesday night.
Buoyed by a partisan crowd at the Verizon Center, the sixth-seeded Hokies (19-13) never trailed as they picked apart the Florida State defense throughout a physical game.
Seth Allen scored 20 points and Justin Robinson 18 points for Virginia Tech, which defeated the Seminoles for the second time this season. The Hokies prevailed in a contest that featured 53 fouls and 72 free throws and saw the crowd thin during the second half as fans scrambled to catch the final trains on the local mass transit system that closed well before the game ended.
Virginia Tech advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.
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Devon Bookert had 19 points for the Seminoles (19-13), who never could fully close the gap after the Hokies built a 30-19 lead just past the middle of the first half.
It was the final blow for Florida State’s at-large hopes in the NCAA tournament. The Seminoles, who were expected to improve after missing the tournament the past three years and spent much of the season lingering at the edge of the at-large field, could be headed to the National Invitation Tournament.
Virginia Tech quickly established an aggressive approach against the Seminoles, who spoke after Tuesday’s defeat of Boston College of the importance of maintaining their defensive improvement. There was little sign of it early as the Hokies routinely blew past defenders for layups, though the Seminoles cut their deficit to 45-38 on Bookert’s 25-footer at the first-half buzzer.
Although Florida State closed within 59-54 with 12 minutes, 45 seconds to play, the Hokies never appeared to feel threatened. Sure enough, Virginia Tech scored on eight consecutive possessions, mixing in layups when it didn’t draw contact and free throws when it did to bump the lead to 77-60.
Virginia Tech will play another late contest Thursday against third-seeded Miami (24-6). The teams split their regular-season meetings, with the Hurricanes winning 65-49 at home Feb. 17 before falling 77-62 Saturday in Blacksburg, Va.