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ATLANTA (AP) — Virginia Tech's 78-77 win over Georgia Tech was no work of art, but after Seth Allen's free throw with three seconds left lifted the Hokies past the Yellow Jackets, it counted as picture perfect.
First-year Hokies head coach Buzz Williams told players that when they snapped their long ACC road losing streak (18 straight), they'd snap a team photo.
Allen triggered the shutters the same way Virginia Tech (12-6, 4-1 ACC) rallied from a 10-point deficit over the final 4:14. His game-winning free throw was the Hokies' 23rd of the second half and 28th of the game.
For the first time since beating Miami 61-60 on Dec. 8, 2013, they flew home winners after attacking the basket with a vengeance after halftime.
"If we win, we get to hang it up in our locker room," Allen said after scoring all 13 of his points in the second half, when he was 11-of-13 from the line. "I just tried to be more aggressive . . . get to the rim every time."
Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 16 of his career-high 27 points in the second half for Georgia Tech (11-7, 1-4 ACC), which led 44-33 at halftime.
After Georgia Tech led 74-64 with 4:32 left, however, nearly everything went right for the Hokies and wrong for the Jackets. Virginia Tech closed with a 14-3 run.
"One of the things we talked about in the second half is we've got to hurry up and get to the bonus," Williams said. "I told the team, 'We've got to stop the clock and get to the free throw line.' "
The second half bore little resemblance to the first, when Georgia Tech scored on 13 of 21 possessions to take a 29-14 lead on Tadric Jackson's 3-pointer.
After Georges-Hunt's 3-point play with 4:32 left in the game, Georgia Tech Charles Mitchell rebounded Kerry Blackshear Jr.'s miss but threw the ball away.
Justin Robinson intercepted, and scored.
Mitchell then threw the ball away on the inbounds pass, and Allen was fouled by Josh Heath after picking off the pass. He made both, and the Hokies scored four points in six seconds to trail 74-68 with 4:08 remaining.
"When a play like that happens, it's both guys' fault," said Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory. "The guard has to come back to the ball and we have to make a better decision on the outlet. The second one was just being sloppy."
Georgia Tech has been outscored 90-25 from the free throw line in its five ACC games.
Josh Heath, a point guard, had two turnovers in the final three minutes, and Adam Smith fouled Allen after his steal on the second. With 1:37 left, he made two free throws to make it 75-all - the first tie since the opening tip.
"Obviously disappointed in our second-half performance," Gregory said. "In particular, being (un)able to guard the basketball without fouling."
Zach LeDay led Virginia Tech with 21 points and seven rebounds, and his 10-footer with 57 seconds left was good for the Hokies' first lead, 77-75.
Georges-Hunt countered with a layup to tie 20 seconds later.
Allen soon drove, and after pump-faking in the lane, he was fouled by Mitchell with 3.4 seconds remaining. Mitchell fouled out with six points and five rebounds, well below his averages of 12.6 and 11.4.
Allen made the first three throw, and Georgia Tech rebounded the second.
After a timeout, Georges-Hunt was unable to get off a shot when he was tied up by LeDay as time expired. Georgia Tech howled for a foul, but there was no call.
"At different spurts, we were playing kind of fast," Georges-Hunt said. "At times, they were kind of speeding us up."
The Yellow Jackets made just 9-of-16 free throws, including 3 of 9 in the second half.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies averaged just 8.3 turnovers in their first four ACC games and forced an average of 13.8. That number flipped Saturday, when Georgia Tech scored 20 points off Virginia Tech's 14 turnovers, and the Jackets coughed it up 13 times.
Georgia Tech: Of the seven different Yellow Jackets who have started this season, only Georges-Hunt and Quinton Stephens began their careers with the program. Mitchell (Maryland), James White (Arkansas-Little Rock graduate), Smith (Virginia Tech graduate), Nick Jacobs (Alabama) and Josh Heath (South Florida) all transferred to Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech entered Saturday having played the toughest ACC schedule their first four conference opponents — North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Notre Dame — had a combined record of 53-12.
FAMILIAR FREE THROWS
Saturday wasn't the first time Virginia Tech relied heavily upon free throws. They made 29-of-35 in Wednesday's 93-91 win over Wake Forest.
SUPER SLOW DOWN
Georgia Tech's final 12 possessions netted three points on 1-of-6 shooting, four turnovers, and 1-of-2 free throws by Josh Heath.
CLAMPING A FRIEND
Adam Smith entered the game leading the ACC in 3-pointers made per game (5.5) in conference games, and the Yellow Jackets paced the league in 3-point percentage (43.5). The Hokies, however, made life difficult on their former teammate and his new teammates. Smith scored five points, all in the first half, and made just 2-of-13 shots, including 1 of 7 from behind the arc.
Smith graduated from Virginia Tech, and opted to use his final season of eligibility for Georgia Tech, his hometown school.
Virginia Tech is on the road Wednesday at Notre Dame.
Georgia Tech is home next Saturday against No. 16 Louisville.
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