After proving itself capable of beating very good teams, Virginia Tech has to be careful not to slip up against lesser opponents.
The 24th-ranked Hokies look to stay near the top of the ACC on Tuesday when they take on slumping Miami at the BankUnited Center.
Wins over No. 5 Duke and top-ranked North Carolina in a recent eight-day span served notice that Virginia Tech (14-5, 4-1) is a legitimate threat to win the ACC for the first time since joining the conference in 1995.
However, just four days after upsetting the Tar Heels, the Hokies stumbled to an 82-73 loss at Florida State, which had lost its first three conference games.
Virginia Tech returned to the win column Sunday with a 67-64 overtime victory against visiting Maryland and is tied for second with North Carolina, one-half game behind Boston College.
The Terps had a chance to win it with 10 seconds to play in regulation, but missed a jumper from the corner.
Zabian Dowdell scored four of his 19 points in overtime, and fellow guard Jamon Gordon added 16 as the Hokies rallied after blowing an eight-point in the final six minutes of regulation.
“To be able to get a stop there at the end of the game, those are things we were unable to do a year ago,” Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. “We didn’t have the ability.”
While the win improved the Hokies to 10-0 at home this season, all five of their losses have come either on the road or at neutral sites. They play five of their next seven away from Cassell Coliseum.
“In the ACC, you have to win your home games,” Dowdell said. “It’s almost a must. You try to steal a couple on the road, but you definitely have to win your home games. We have a great environment here and great fans, and even in the bad weather, they came out and supported us and gave us a great homecourt advantage.”
Virginia Tech’s 14-5 record is the program’s best mark through 19 games since it was 17-2 in the 1995-96 season, which marked its last trip to the NCAA tournament. The Hokies’ 4-1 ACC record is their best in league play since they started 5-0 that same season.
Dowdell and Gordon are the Hokies’ leading scorers, averaging 17.4 and 12.3 points, respectively, but senior forward Coleman Collins has been a key contributor of late.
Collins had his second double-double of the season Sunday with 11 points and 14 rebounds. He is averaging 11.7 points in his last six games after putting up 5.8 in his previous six.
Miami (9-11, 2-4) will try to end a three-game overall losing streak, and a three-game skid at home. The Hurricanes shot only 35.5 percent (22-of-62) from the field Saturday in an 86-67 loss at Florida State.
Sophomore Denis Clemente scored 15 points and three others added 12 for Miami, which has lost seven of nine.
The Hurricanes are 35-105 all-time against ranked opponents, including 1-1 this season.
Miami won the last meeting with Virginia Tech 70-59 at home on Feb. 22. The Hurricanes have won seven of 10 overall, and four of five at home against the Hokies.