This was not how Virginia Tech figured to beat Florida State on Saturday.
With Malcolm Delaney going scoreless for 17 minutes? That's always been lethal for the Hokies.
With Seth Greenberg employing zone defense throughout? He'd never done so in 21 seasons as a head coach.
With forward Jeff Allen contributing team-high 24 points and 11 rebounds? Tech's most mercurial and maddening player in memory was nursing a tender groin that required pre-game painkillers.
Yet that was precisely the formula the Hokies used to forge a convincing and much-needed 71-59 victory over the Seminoles at Cassell Coliseum.
"We proved for one night we could compete at the ACC level," Greenberg said.
There was reason to doubt whether Tech could summon such a performance against the nation's top-ranked defense. Injuries have slashed the roster to eight scholarship players, none taller than 6-foot-8, and a three-game losing streak in early December discouraged coaches, players and fans.
But the Hokies (10-4, 1-1 ACC) seized control with a 12-0 run to end the first half and countered the Seminoles' inevitable second-half runs.
Allen deserves most of the credit.
He had 18 points and nine boards after intermission. He scored six points in a two-minute flurry that goosed Tech's lead from three back to 10.
And then came his defining moment.
With Florida State's best player, Chris Singleton, barreling toward the bucket and about to narrow the lead back to four, Allen drew a charging foul.
Taking a charge from the 6-9, 225-pound Singleton is dicey under any conditions. When your groin is hurting – try not to wince, guys – it's borderline insane.
"I told (reporters) yesterday I was going to fight through it," Allen said, "and that's what I did."
He did so much more. His 24 points are a season-high, his 10 made free throws a career-best.
"I thought Jeff Allen was absolutely a beast," Greenberg said.
And here's perhaps the most crucial number for Allen: two. As in two fouls, none after halftime. Critical for someone who's fouled out five times this season.
"As long as he can stay out of foul trouble," guard Erick Green said, "we're going to be good."
A sophomore starting in place of injured Dorenzo Hudson (foot), Green scored 12 points, his sixth consecutive game in double figures. Not coincidentally, Tech is 6-0 in that stretch.
Green also was hyperactive in the Hokies' 2-3 zone defense. He was credited with four of Tech's 10 steals and teamed with Terrell Bell for effective traps that helped force Florida State (11-5, 1-1) into 19 turnovers.
Greenberg sagely used the zone to compensate for his team's lack of size, to shield Allen from foul trouble and to con the Seminoles into launching 3-pointers. It worked on all counts.
"I can't recollect in 21 years playing 40 minutes of zone," Greenberg said. "I found my inner Jimmy Boeheim, I guess."
Boeheim is Syracuse's Hall of Fame coach, and no coach is wedded more to the 2-3. His Orange used it to win the 2003 national championship, and this season the 'Cuse is 16-0 and ranked fourth.
No one forecasts anything remotely similar for these Hokies. But Delaney, an All-ACC guard, won't have many 3-for-10 games like Saturday, and if Green continues to progress and Allen keeps his wits, this could be an intriguing squad.
A 6-7 senior, Allen is the only player to rank among the program's top five in career rebounds, steals and blocked shots. He's also on pace to crack the top 10 in scoring.
Greenberg calls Allen one of Tech's "all-time greats, statistically," emphasizing the qualifier. And indeed, Allen has tried his coach's patience with suspensions, petulance and inconsistency.
"Hiccups," Greenberg called them.
But during the Hokies' six-game winning streak, Allen has five double-doubles, and the exception was an 18-point, nine-rebound effort against St. Bonaventure. Never has he sustained excellence like this.
"Only God Can Judge Me," reads the tattoo on Allen's left bicep, and grand scheme, of course, he's right. But when you're an athlete, everyone judges.
"I think he understands," Greenberg said, "that this is his last (season) through those doors."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime, and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP