The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have won their 2nd ACC game of the season and second straight game after taking down the Virginia Tech Hokies 77-75. The Deacs found themselves down early in the first half, but battled back and held on down the stretch to get the win.
As they say, basketball is a game of runs. The Deacs started the game off on a 5-0 run and had Matthew Marsh at the line with 2 free throws with a chance to take a 7-0 lead. Marsh missed both, and then the Hokies—powered by a couple 3-pointers from Justyn Mutts—went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead.
That run extended all the way to a 19-5 run as the Deacs missed their next 9 shots and went almost 7 minutes without a field goal. This wasn’t one of those game where Wake seemingly forgets how to play and turns the ball over multiple times—in fact, Wake had just 1 turnover in the half. The Deacs were getting great looks at the basket and just couldn’t get anything to drop. Even Daivien Williamson, who is typically automatic in the corner, missed the whole goal on a couple of open corner 3-pointers. I’m going to just chalk that up to some rust from the long break. When Wake finally stopped the run, the Hokies led 19-12.
The shots finally started to drop towards the end of the half for Wake, and the Deacs went on an 8-0 run on the back of 2 Williamson 3-pointers to get the game tied back up at 29. At the break, things were all knitted up at 38. To be tied after shooting an abysmal 36% from the floor was definitely a win for the Deacs.
Wake came out of the half with energy, and a 13-8 run gave the Deacs a 7 point lead to start the half. Appleby was all over the court early with 5 points, 2 steals, and an assist in the first 5 minutes of the half. Wake had a ton of opportunities to pull ahead by double digits during that span, but was never able to get real separation from the Hokies.
Some missed free throws and turnovers in the next few minutes allowed Tech to get right back in the game as they cut the lead back to just 2 points with 8 minutes remaining in the game. The Hokies started exploiting Wake’s inability to guard Justyn Mutts, and the senior scored 10 of his 18 points on 5-7 shooting in the second half.
Wake answered with another run of their own, as Forbes went to the same set on 3 straight possessions, resulting in 2 Daivien Williamson 3-pointers and an Andrew Carr layup to push the lead back up to 7.
With 1 minute remaining in the game, Grant Basile hit a 3-pointer to cut the Wake lead to just 2 points. On their final possession of the game, the Deacs came up with 2 massive offensive rebounds that allowed them to run 54 seconds off the clock and get Damari Monsanto 2 free throws with just 6 seconds remaining in the game. Monsanto drained both to give Wake their second straight ACC win over quad 1 opponents.
To come away with a win over a very good VT team after shooting 37% from the floor and getting out rebounded is a pretty impressive feat. Probably the biggest reason for that was Wake taking care of the ball—the Deacs finished the game with just 7 turnovers. It also helps to have the best player on the court in Tyree Appleby, who finished with 24 points and 7 assists.
The Deacs have really turned things around since the Rutgers debacle, and it looks like they are right back on track to make a push for the NCAA tournament this season. They have a pretty tough one coming up in 2023 in Chapel Hill. A win over the Heels would be a massive boost for this team to start off ACC play. Let’s make it three straight!