The Wake Forest Demon Deacons held a 7-point halftime lead over the Virginia Tech Hokies, but poor defense in the second half allowed Virginia Tech to come back and pull away to win, 99-90. The loss dropped Wake Forest to 19-13 overall, including 10-10 in ACC play. Virginia Tech improved to 22-9 on the year, including 10-9 in ACC play, and will move on to face Florida State tomorrow evening. Even with the loss, Wake Forest should still be fine to make the NCAA Tournament.
Zach LeDay was the story for the Hokies, as the senior won the individual matchup against John Collins and finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds, including 7 offensive rebounds. A number of times he simply outworked Collins and grabbed rebounds. Overall, Virginia Tech was too lethal from all over offensively, and Wake simply couldn’t keep pace. Ty Outlaw continued his hot shooting ways, as he drained 4 out of 7 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points. Justin Bibbs was also lethal from beyond the arc. The junior made 3 out of 6 from beyond the arc and finished with 15 points. Seth Allen was slippery for Virginia Tech, and the senior got to the basket for layups a number of times.
Wake’s strong start included a lot of hot shooting. The Deacs got off to a 15-7 lead, but the Hokies responded. Virginia Tech chipped away by getting it to Zach LeDay, who did not start the game, and they took the lead at one point, and trailed by only 2 with 12 seconds remaining in the half.
The first half had a wild ending. Bryant Crawford drove the length of the court to make a layup with 2 seconds left. Virginia Tech inbounded the ball down towards their basket and then mayhem happened. Greg McClinton ended the first half in dramatic fashion, as he heaved an 80-footer that miraculously went in and gave the Deacs a 7-point lead at halftime. I give McClinton credit for heaving this, because it infuriates me when players do not attempt shots as time is expiring.
When you accidentally hit shoot in 2K pic.twitter.com/I9Uaj1wtOI— Robert Reinhard (@Robert_Reinhard) March 9, 2017
Despite the Wake Forest enthusiasm headed into halftime, Virginia Tech was resilient out of halftime, as the Hokies made a number of triples to head into the under-16 timeout down just 51-50. Unfortunately that trend continued. There was some back-and-forth, and Wake Forest tied the game back up at 67 with 8:40 left after a pair of Bryant Crawford free throws, but Virginia Tech pulled away using an onslaught of 3 pointers.
The Hokies had all beat sealed up the game, as they led by 12 points with just 1:28 remaining, but Wake Forest made it extremely interesting, and clawed back to trail by just 4 points with 30 seconds remaining. VT split a pair of free throws, but then Brandon Childress took an ill-advised 3 on the subsequent possession, and that was all she wrote.
Virginia Tech beat Wake Forest because they were hot from deep (poor perimeter defense had a lot to do with that), and Wake also routinely got beat off the dribble. When Virginia Tech did miss, they still managed to grab a high percentage of offensive rebounds. Missing 3-pointers does make it harder for the defense to grab defensive rebounds, but Virginia Tech just out hustled Wake to grab those balls. Having the additional day of rest certainly helped, but I thought that they had more energy. The Hokies made 61% of field goals in the second half, including 54% from beyond the arc.
Wake had a stout night offensively, and scored 1.23 points per possession, but they surrendered 1.36 points per possession. Bryant Crawford and John Collins were both very efficient for Wake, and combined for 36 points. Brandon Childress also played a nice game (on both ends), and scored 15 points.
Wake Forest will now await its NCAA Tournament fate. If you are feeling uneasy about Wake’s chances, I would recommend reading this article from 538. I’m clearly not the most objective person in the world, but I truly believe that they have earned it. They had no bad losses, had a number of road victories, a victory over #8 Louisville, and a 9-9 record in the hardest conference in college basketball. We will now root for Louisville to make a run and the other teams on the bubble to lose. Stonz will have another Bubble Forecast article out tomorrow.