When top scorer Malcolm Delaney turned up the basketball equivalent of AWOL, the Hokies' need became more acute.
Conversely, Cavaliers supporting actors — hey, it's Oscar season — such as Assane Sene and Tunji Soroye made vital contributions at both ends to spark Virginia's 75-61 victory at raucous John Paul Jones Arena.
Not far removed from an eight-game, 39-day winless stretch, Virginia boasts two victories in four days.
Winner of five straight last month, including a 78-75 decision over the Cavaliers, Virginia Tech has dropped four of its last six to jeopardize its NCAA tournament chances.
But any semblance of normalcy for this game vanished when Allen, the Hokies' top rebounder and No. 3 scorer, got himself busted for a game by flipping off fans at Maryland on Saturday.
Given Allen's absence, Mike Scott inside figured to be one of Virginia's best offensive matchups. But Scott committed two quick fouls and played only four first-half minutes.
No worries for the Cavs (9-13, 3-8).
In Scott's absence, Sene and Soroye provided — dare we say? — intimidating post presence on both ends.
Sene got loose for two easy dunks and altered several shots near the bucket. Soroye blocked a J.T. Thompson shot and scored six points in the final four minutes of the first half as Virginia used an 11-2 run to lead 39-29 at the break.
That's 10 first-half points for a duo that, in 10 previous conference games this season, averaged 3.8 points combined.
"I wouldn't give them too much credit," Thompson said. "I'd say we were messing up."
The Sene-Soroye numbers weren't the most troubling in the first half for the Hokies (16-9, 6-5). This was: two.
That was the number of shots Delaney attempted in 20 minutes. When you're No. 3 scorer is suspended, your top scorer sure as heck better be hoisting more than two shots.
"Part of it was their (zone) defense," Delaney said, "and I passed up a lot of shots."
The game's most telling sequence transpired early in the second half with the Cavaliers leading 46-33.
Delaney forced a corner 3-pointer off an inbounds play. Air ball.