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Wake Forest Survives Georgia Tech 71-70

That was ugly

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Wake Forest William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Just win, baby. The Deacs played with fire tonight against a Georgia Tech team they should have beaten handily, and it almost cost them. Thankfully, Wake was able to steal one late on Tyree Appleby’s pair of free throws with 2 seconds remaining that gave Wake a 71-70 win. The Deacs move to 17-9 overall and 9-6 in the ACC, putting them in 6th place. More importantly, Wake avoided a bad loss that would have bursted their bubble and removed any chance of the Deacs dancing in March.

This one was ugly. Wake jumped out to a 16-5 lead in the first few minutes, and I guess they kind of decided that was good enough to win the game. What proceeded over the next 30 minutes was some of the most lethargic, uninspired basketball that I have seen this team play. The Deacs were walking the ball up the court, no one was moving on offense, they couldn’t rebound, and they were simply getting outplayed by the Yellow Jackets. There was so little energy in the Joel that, at times, you could hear a pin drop. By halftime, Wake was down 38-34.

The second half was just more of the same until about the last 4 minutes. Wake simply could not buy a stop when they needed it and found themselves down 1 point with 28 seconds remaining—that final 28 was a roller coaster ride. The Deacs got a steal on a GT inbound and Appleby made a layup to go up 1 with 12 seconds remaining. Then, Deivon Smith went coast to coast in under 5 seconds for a wide open layup to get the Yellow Jackets the lead back with 6 seconds left to play. With the game on the line, Appleby drew a foul in the final seconds of the game and made both free throws to keep Wake’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Wake truly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

The heroes for me in this game were Cam Hildreth and Bobi Klintman. Hildreth led the way with a game high 19 points on 5-9 shooting and helped force the big steal that gave the Deacs a chance to win the game. Klintman was great off the bench and was the one player for Wake who was playing with a little energy when he was in there. He finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes. Marsh also had a solid 8 points and 2 rebounds, but only played 10 minutes.

After a big win over UNC, I guess a let down game should have been more expected, but that was just too close for comfort. The Deacs were about 2 seconds away from a quad 4 loss that ended any chance of making the big dance, simply because they didn’t look particularly interested in playing basketball today. Personally, I think Wake played small far too much in this game, especially when Marsh was dominant in the paint when he was in the game.

While this game will probably hurt Wake’s metrics significantly in the NET rankings, a win is a win and the Deacs were lucky to survive. The good news is that the Deacs have a week until their next game against Miami, so they should be able to rest and heal up for the final push towards the post season. Hopefully the week off allows Wake to go into Coral Gables with a little more liveliness, because if they play like they did today on the road against the Hurricanes, it will not be pretty.

There’s no such thing as a bad win.

Go Deacs!