BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech shot 51.6 percent in the second half and rallied from 11 points down with just over 12 minutes to go to knock off No. 23 Wake Forest 87-83 in an ACC game played Tuesday night at Cassell Coliseum.
The win enabled the Hokies to move to 21-4 overall on the season, 8-3 in the ACC, and Tech moved to a perfect 14-0 at home this season. In addition, the Hokies won their fifth straight ACC game – the first time they’ve won five straight conference games since the school joined the league.
“It was a great win for our basketball team,” Tech head coach Seth Greenberg said. “Our reward is now we get a chance to go to Durham [N.C].”
Tech’s victory enabled the Hokies to move into second place in the league standings and set up a showdown with ACC-leading Duke on Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils entered a Wednesday night game against Miami with a 9-2 league mark.
Tech trailed Wake Forest 61-50 after two free throws by Wake’s Al-Farouq Aminu with 12:31 remaining in the game. But the Hokies embarked on a 20-8 run and took a 70-69 lead on a Malcolm Delaney 3-pointer with 6:44 left.
Wake Forest (18-6, 8-4) managed to recapture the lead a little more than two minutes later when L.D. Williams scored on a dunk with 4:13 to go. That gave the Deacons a slim 74-73 lead.
But Delaney answered with a lay-up at the 3:41 mark and that gave the Hokies the lead for good. Delaney drained a big 3-pointer 41 seconds later and JT Thompson’s two free throws with 2:35 to go capped a 7-0 Tech run that gave Tech an 80-74 lead.
Wake got as close to three, 86-83, on a lay-up by Ish Smith with 17.9 seconds left, but Dorenzo Hudson’s free throw with 16 seconds to go push the Tech lead to four. Wake missed a shot and then turned it over on the ensuing possession, sealing the game for the Hokies.
“It’s all about the players,” Greenberg said. “They’re just so resilient and tough-minded. When we get down, they don’t chase shots. They continue to execute. They understand how to get back in a game. That’s really important. You get back in a game by getting stops. You don’t get back in a game by outscoring people. We weren’t great defensively for us, but we got enough stops and we got enough loose balls.”
Delaney, the ACC’s leading scorer, paced Tech with a game-high 31 points, hitting 9-for-20 from the floor, including 3-for-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also hit 10 of 13 from the free-throw line and tied a career high with nine rebounds.
Dorenzo Hudson added 21 points – including eight in that 20-8 run – and seven rebounds for the Hokies, while Thompson had 16 points and five rebounds off the bench. Terrell Bell grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and tied a career high with four blocked shots for Tech, which out-rebounded the bigger Demon Deacons 47-38.
And after shooting 33.3 percent from the floor in the first half, Tech heated up to 51.6 percent in the second half and 42.6 percent for the game.
“We can score,” Delaney said. “We executed. Every set we ran, we executed. We’re starting to be a better halfcourt offensive team. Everything is starting to come together. We’re getting better at something every game and that’s why we’ve been so good. We just keep improving.”
Wake got 25 points from Aminu, who went 8-for-15 from the floor and 8-for-11 from the free-throw line. But he scored just four points in the second half and attempted just three shots from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
“We tried to make it harder for him to catch the ball so low in the post,” said Thompson, who saw extensive minutes because Jeff Allen sat most of the game with foul trouble. “And we tried to keep him off the glass. In the first half, he was hurting us with offensive rebounds, so we tried to keep him off the glass.”
Aminu finished with 11 rebounds, eight offensive. Williams added 19 points for the Demon Deacons, while Smith scored 18 and dished out eight assists.
The tip off for the Duke game is slated for 7:45 p.m. Tech last won at Duke on Jan. 6, 2007, beating the then fifth-ranked Blue Devils 69-67 in overtime.
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