Hokies ugly it up, win with defense

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It wasn’t as if Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg brought his team out to Southern California to participate in a beauty contest in hopes it would get signed by a top modeling agency.

The Hokies play ugly and readily admit it. After a grind-it-out 56-51 win over Oklahoma State, that advanced them into Sunday night's 76 Classic championship game, it was apparent Virginia Tech feels comfortable playing ugly as long as the victories keep coming.

“We win ugly,” Greenberg said. “We just hope we can get the other team to play as ugly as we do because we practice that way, so we’re better at it.”

Virginia Tech shot 34.7 percent from the floor, but went to the locker room after the game taking pride in holding Oklahoma State to 28.8 percent shooting.

Malcolm Delaney led the Hokies with 16 points (10 from the free throw line), but was happiest using multiple defenses effective enough to limit Cowboys forward Marshall Moses. After scoring a career-high 27 points the previous day against DePaul, Moses was held to four in the second half and 14 overall against Virginia Tech.

“We played great defense,” Delaney said. “Our defense is a lot better. That’s how we win games. That’s our program.”

Said Greenberg: “Defense is what we have to be all the time. That’s what we spend 70-30 [percent] in practice.”

The Hokies don’t have the frontcourt depth to match other teams, with J.T. Thompson out for the season with a knee injury and Allan Chaney out with a heart ailment. But Cadarian Raines did make his season debut coming off foot injuries, and at the very least, filled up a stat sheet with four fouls.

Playing with four fouls apiece, Jeff Allen (11 points, seven rebounds) and Victor Davila (nine points, five rebounds) hung in there as well.

Davila picked up his fourth when he was whistled for swinging his elbows, with Oklahoma State taking advantage to maintain a seven-point advantage with 6:02 left.

But with the score tied at 48, Terrell Bell came up with a steal and Davila hit two go-ahead free throws on the other end of the floor with 1:59 left. With the Cowboys committing turnovers down the stretch, Delaney would ice the game with four more free throws.

“We were pretty physical,” Allen said. “We have help from the guards digging in.”

So while the shots didn’t fall for the Hokies (2-of-14 from 3-point range), Oklahoma State was just 3-of-13 from beyond the arc and committed 16 turnovers to boot. The Cowboys also saw Matt Pilgrim get ejected for a flagrant elbow that connected with Bell early in the second half.

“I thought we were good defensively,” Greenberg said. “I think both teams played really hard defensively. That’s what November is.”

In other words: ugly.