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Virginia Tech has largely avoided turnovers

A key to Virginia Tech’s success has been its ability to win the turnover battle. The Hokies protect the ball and do a good job forcing turnovers to create offense out of their defense, ranking first in the ACC with a plus-5.4 turnover margin before Wednesday night.

"Right now, I feel like we’re doing a very good job taking care of the ball," guard Dorezno Hudson said this week before the Hokies defeated North Carolina State on Wednesday night. "We’re not holding the ball as much. We try to put up a shot before you get a turnover. I feel we’ve done a pretty good job holing the ball and getting what we’re looking for on the offensive side."

In a 72-52 win over N.C. State, the Hokies had more turnovers (16) than the Wolfpack (15), but such a performance has been an anomaly.

Virginia Tech has made a concerted effort to protect the ball in its possessions. It has started in practice. Players are punished if they do not catch the ball with two hands, dribble the ball off their foot or handle it careless less. The punishment? Seventeens, which is when they are asked to run the width of the court 17 times in a minute.

"You don’t want to run a 17, I can tell you that," guard Erick Green said. "Just handling the ball in practice, when he tells us to run, you don’t want to run any more, so you just do what it takes. It pays off when we get in the game."

In recent games, Virginia Tech's dominance in the turnover battle has been evident. In a win over North Carolina on Feb. 4, the Hokies were plus-nine in the turnover margin. Clemson had 17 turnovers to Virginia Tech's 10 in the Hokies' victory over the Tigers on Feb. 6.

Forward Jeff Allen is particularly adept at forcing turnovers, ranking second in the ACC with 2.1 steals per game. The Hokies average 7.7 steals per game, which ranks fifth in the league. Virginia Tech's ability to create opportunities out of its defense aids an offense that has sputtered throughout the year.

"We know we can’t lose the ball because every point is valuable," Green said. "Every bucket we can steal, we need to have."

By Mark Viera  |  February 11, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
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