Dorenzo Hudson scored 31 points and Virginia Tech finally earned a trip to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night with a 78-63 victory against Florida International in the second round of the NIT Tip-off.
Freshman Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Hokies (3-0), who have played in the postseason NIT four years running without making it to New York.
FIU (1-1) trailed throughout, but closed to within 39-34 early in the second half before Virginia Tech went on a 19-7 run over the next five minutes to essentially put the game away.
Jeremy Allen led FIU with 15 points and Phil Taylor had 13.
The continued resurgence of Hudson after he missed most of last season with a right foot injury is critical for the Hokies, especially with a semifinals matchup with No. 5 Syracuse ahead. The Hokies also hope to have guard Erick Green available. He strained his Achilles tendon before the season, and watched most of the second half after the strain got sore.
Virginia Tech hardly needed him as the Panthers didn't offer much resistance after getting within five with 14 1/2 minutes to play. The Hokies' 19-7 run as a command-taking response, included a 3-pointer and three-point play by Finney-Smith, a 3-pointer by Hudson and baskets by four other players as Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg continued to mix freshmen into the lineup.
Green added 12 points and Victor Davila added 11 and seven rebounds for the Hokies.
The Panthers scored 11 straight to cut a 25-12 deficit to 25-23, but Hudson hit a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer and Green added a 3 in an 8-3 run that made it 33-26 at halftime.
The Hokies opened the game on a 14-2 run.
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