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Allen a master thief with quickness, length

Virginia Tech has maintained a defense-first approach since the preseason. And with his long arms and quickness, forward Jeff Allen can be a valuable asset in the Hokies' defense.

Allen ranks tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 1.8 steals per game. His 33 steals are 14 more than any of his teammates.

Allen had three steals in Virginia Tech's 63-62 win over Boston College on Saturday. Asked afterward why he has had such success in that area, Allen matter of factly said, "I'm quicker than most big men, and I have long arms."

Only Florida State's Chris Singleton, who is 6 feet 9, averages more steals per game (2.2).

Allen, who is 6-7, has twice had five or more steals in games this season. He can make life difficult for opposing players in the paint, as he strips and swats at the ball in the lane. Sometimes, though, that aggressive play has hurt Allen, who has struggled with foul trouble at times this season.

"It’s feast or famine," Hokies Coach Seth Greenberg said. "You love it when it works. But in a pivotal time, you’ve got to just say, ‘Keep the guy in front of you, trace the basketball; your guy is not scoring.' "

Greenberg added: "You take the good with the bad."

By Mark Viera  |  January 25, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
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