March 10, 2015
Hudson carries Tech past Wake at ACC Tournament
By Jimmy Robertson
Virginia Tech (11-21) 414081
Wake Forest (13-19) 314980
  • Greensboro Coliseum - 9,003
  • High Points: 32 - Jalen Hudson
  • High Rebounds: 5 - Christian Beyer, Jalen Hudson

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Virginia Tech’s Jalen Hudson hit a short jumper with 11.7 seconds left, and the Hokies survived three last-second Wake Forest attempts to knock off the Demon Deacons 81-80 in an ACC Tournament first-round game at the Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday.

With the win, the Hokies moved to 11-21 overall on the season and advanced to the second round, where they will take on Miami on Wednesday night. Wake Forest saw its season end with a 13-19 record.

Hudson came off the bench to score a career-high 32 points, hitting 10 of 18 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, and he hit all 10 of his free-throw attempts. His 32 points were the most ever by a Tech player in an ACC Tournament game.

“I’ve said since Thanksgiving that Jalen was our most talented player, but he didn’t play hard enough to be that every game,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “He knows that. He’s as smart as Christian Beyer is. When he plays hard, he’s really good, and when he doesn’t play hard, he’s just a 6-4 guard that doesn’t play hard. He’s growing up just like the rest of the freshmen are.”

The Hokies led by 10 at halftime and 11 early in the second half. But the Demon Deacons used a 17-2 run to get back in the game, and they led by five, 65-60, after a three-point play by Codi Miller-McIntyre with a little more than seven minutes left in the game.

Tech, though, rallied behind Hudson, who scored 12 of the Hokies’ final 15 points – all with less than 4:30 remaining.

The Demon Deacons took an 80-79 lead on a 3-pointer by Dinos Mitoglou with 23.7 seconds remaining. Tech called a timeout with 17 seconds to go and got the ball into the hands of Hudson, who drove into the lane and scored.

“It was a similar play,” Hudson said when asked if it was the same play that the Hokies ran in the waning moments of regulation against Duke – a shot that Hudson missed, but one in which many thought he got fouled. “It was to get the ball to me and turn it downhill, and if I didn’t have an open shot, then there was a man in the corner who had another open shot.

“This time, I tried to free myself up so the player wouldn’t get a chance to foul me, so I kind of learned from the Duke game because I know, in the last second like that, the refs don’t want to put the game in their hands. I just tried to finish by avoiding some contact, and I did. I was able to finish.”

Wake Forest quickly pushed the ball up the court, and Miller-McIntyre drove into the lane, losing the ball out of bounds with a little more than six seconds left. Officials ruled that a Tech player touched the ball, and then went to the video monitor to confirm the call, again ruling the ball went off a Tech player.

Wake Forest got the ball inbounds. Mitoglou took a baseline jumper with four seconds to go that was a little strong. Devin Thomas got the rebound, but missed, and then Miller-McIntyre missed a tip-in as the buzzer sounded.

“Most teams are really good at defending the first shot,” Williams said. “But then what happens is when the shot, last second, they’re like, ‘I wonder if it’s going in.’ And because there is no possession remaining, everybody is charging the rim.

“We’ve shown it [a video clip of put-back game winners] six times throughout the season. So the only thing I was talking to our team about amidst whose ball it is was this is a take-up space game winner. We know their inbounds plays. You guys know how to defend it. We’ll be fine on that shot [the first shot]. But it’s the next shot.

“Another example of how fragile the line is – that they got three [shots], two of the three were point-blank layups.”

Ahmed Hill added 12 points for the Hokies, who shot 48.4 percent from the floor and made 13 of 14 from the free-throw line – Tech entered the game last in the ACC in free-throw percentage (63.4 percent).

The Hokies also got strong contributions from their bench. Behind Hudson’s 32, Tech scored 50 points off the bench, with Beyer and Adam Smith adding seven points, and Shane Henry scoring four points. Henry also grabbed four rebounds – three offensive – in 14 minutes.

“I thought what Shane did was the difference in the game,” Williams said. “I thought his speed and quickness – even though Devin Thomas demolished all our guys – just his speed and the quickness he gave us in transition … I was just so, so happy for him because he’s a guy that nobody mentions, but he works just as hard as anybody in our program.”

Miller-McIntyre led Wake with 23 points and 11 assists. Thomas added 22 points and nine rebounds.

The Tech-Miami game is slated to tip off at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

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