With a 4-4 record and a series of disappointing losses, Virginia Tech's players and coaches knew opportunities for a big season were slipping away, and fast.
A lengthy team meeting earlier this week produced a plan to fix it, and they put it into effect on Sunday, using extra passes, good defense and shooting to beat Penn State, 79-69.
"It wasn't a fun team meeting," senior forward Terrell Bell said of the gathering Wednesday. "It was one of those things where it's now or never. We've got to pick it up."
Fellow seniors Malcolm Delaney scored 18 points and Jeff Allen played one of his best all-around games as the Hokies (5-4) snapped a three-game losing streak. They finished with 20 assists, one short of their season high, and shot 54.5 percent from the field (30 for 55).
And they did it with No. 3 scorer Dorenzo Hudson watching, having sustained a right calf injury in a collision during practice earlier in the week. But Allen had a lot to do with why, contributing 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and staying out of foul trouble.
He did the latter even after drawing a whistle in the game's opening minute.
"JT (Thompson) told me the other day, 'No need to make the facial expression after they make the call,'" said Allen, who has had a tendency to scowl at officials. "He said, 'Just go out and play,' so I tried that today and it worked, so I'm going to continue doing it."
Erick Green, who started for Hudson, matched his career high with 15 points and Terrell Bell had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Hokies. Freshman Tyrone Garland, pressed into duty when Green and Delaney each had three fouls early in the second half, scored nine points.
"To get Malcolm and Jeff going, and Erick and Ty, it's a great thing," Bell said.
Delaney was not available after the game, having cut his lower lip when he crashed to the floor late in the game. He was receiving stitches, coach Seth Greenberg said.
Talor Battle scored 26 to lead Penn State (7-3), which was playing only its second road game, but had no answer for Delaney, who was 6 for 9 from the floor and had eight assists.
Coach Ed DeChellis, though, thought Green was the difference.
"He was kind of the x-factor," he said. "I thought the kid really did a good job."
The Nittany Lions trailed 44-33 at halftime, then scored the first eight points of the second half to close to within three, 44-41, and quiet a half-filled Cassell Coliseum.
Delaney, however, fed Green for a 3-pointer that just beat the shot clock, ending the Penn State run and sparking a 10-0 burst by the Hokies that extended their lead to 13.
Battle tried to rally the Nittany Lions with a 14-footer and a pair of free throws, but Allen fed Victor Davila for an easy basket inside, freshman Tyrone Garland scored in transition and Delaney fed Davila again, this time for a two-handed dunk, to make it 61-47.
The Nittany Lions never made a game of it again.
The victory was just the second for Virginia Tech in five games against power conference schools this season. The Hokies also beat Oklahoma State, but have lost to No. 5 Kansas State, No. 19 Purdue and state rival Virginia, the last two coming on their home floor.
Delaney made sure it didn't happen again.
The Hokies outscored Penn State 24-13 over the last nine minutes of the first half to lead 44-33 at the break. Delaney was 4 for 4 from 3-point range in the burst with 12 points.