Blacksburg, VA – Trailing by double digits with just over 10 minutes to play, Virginia Tech pulled off a furious rally down the stretch to defeat #23 Wake Forest 87-83 on Tuesday night in Cassell Coliseum. The victory was Tech’s fifth in a row, and they moved to 21-4 overall and 8-3 in the ACC. Wake Forest dropped to 18-6 overall and 8-4 in conference play.
The big story of this game was Malcolm Delaney getting his shot back. Delaney scored 31 points and was 9-of-20 from the field, including 3-of-8 from three-point range. He was also great from the free throw line, as usual, knocking down 10-of-13 shots.
Delaney, as well as all of Tech’s guards and wings, paid attention to Seth Greenberg’s key to the game: the perimeter players must rebound the basketball. Delaney finished with nine rebounds, Dorenzo Hudson pulled down seven to go along with 21 points, and Terrell Bell had a whopping 14 boards and four blocked shots.
The Hokies shot just 33.3% in the first half, but came back in the second half to go 51.6% from the field. Tech relentlessly attacked the basket, let by undersized power forward J.T. Thompson. The 6-6 Thompson faced a front court that featured no player shorter than 6-9, and he scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.
Thompson’s game was huge, because Jeff Allen got in foul trouble and played just 18 minutes, finishing with eight points and five rebounds. In fact, the Hokies spent much of the second half in foul trouble. Thompson also finished the game with four fouls, and Malcolm Delaney fouled out with 23 seconds remaining.
Victor Davila played just 10 minutes thanks to a bruised tailbone, and freshman forward Cadarian Raines filled in well. Raines played 20 minutes, finishing with two points, four rebounds and a block.
This was a game that Wake Forest controlled for much of the way. Virginia Tech led just once in the first half, an early 12-11 lead, and the Demon Deacons led by as many as 10 points in the first 20 minutes. Al-Farouq Aminu threw down a dunk with 49 seconds remaining in the first half to make the score 40-30, and Wake went into halftime with a 40-32 lead.
Aminu, a future NBA lottery pick, finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. However, he scored just four points in the second half. The Hokies played a lot of zone in the early minutes of the second half, denying Aminu the ball. Tech also attacked the glass much better in the final 20 minutes.
The Hokies trailed by eight points at halftime, and things got worse early in the second half. C.J. Harris drained a three-pointer on Wake’s opening possession to put his team up 43-32. Tech didn’t play good defense for the first part of the second half, and still found themselves down 61-50 with 12:51 remaining in the game.
That’s when the Hokies started to rally. Dorenzo Hudson got Tech started by running off six consecutive points, including four from the free throw line. His huge one-handed dunk over two Wake Forest defenders with 11:56 remaining made the score 61-54 Wake, and it brought the Cassell Coliseum crowd to their feet. From that point on, the Hokies were back in the game.
Tech kept pecking away at Wake’s lead following Hudson’s dunk, and they finally got over the hump when Malcolm Delaney drained a three-pointer at the 6:44 mark to put his team up 70-69. The Demon Deacons came back to lead on two more occasions, but a late Virginia Tech run finally put the game away.
A dunk by L.D. Williams put Wake up 74-73 with 4:13 left, but that was the last time they led. The Hokies went on a 9-2 run to take an 82-76 lead with 53 seconds left in the game.
The Demon Deacons stayed in the game because the Hokies only made three of their last six free throws. However, that was enough, as Virginia Tech walked out of Cassell Coliseum an 87-83 winner. They are now a perfect 14-0 at home this season.
The Hokies, now in second place in the ACC, will battle the Duke Blue Devils for first place on Sunday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:45pm, and the game will be televised nationally by FSN. Check your local listings.