2010-11 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

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(home games)
  • Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2011
  • Time: 7 pm
  • TV: ESPN2

The Hokies are in Winston-Salem tonight for a rematch with the bottom
dwellers of the ACC, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Hokies beat Wake handily
in Cassell Coliseum back on January 15th, part of a dismal stretch for Wake that
has seen the Deacs lose 11 of their last 12 games. This looks like a gimme, but
after Saturday’s loss at Virginia, the Hokies can’t let up if they want to
finish in the top four of the ACC and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

The Hokies pounded Wake Forest 94-65 in that January 15th matchup, and that
included a 7-0 run by Wake to start the game. Wake Forest is floundering under
new coach Jeff Bzdelik at 8-19 overall, just 1-11 in the ACC. The Demon Deacons
are an eye-popping 250th in the RPI ratings (per statsheet.com; realtimerpi.com
has them at #248). No ACC team has finished outside the top 200 in the RPI since
Florida State was #203 at the end of the 2004-05 season, six years ago. Wake
Forest is poised to blow that away and wrap up the year as one of the worst ACC
teams … ever.

Nonetheless, the Hokies have to come ready to play, as they found out in
Charlottesville last Saturday, when the Virginia Cavaliers put Tech squarely
back on the NCAA bubble by beating the Hokies 61-54. A loss to Wake Forest would
be disastrous, and the Hokies can’t afford to look ahead to Saturday night’s
matchup with #1 Duke. They have to take care of business here first.

For the last four games, the Deacs have gone with the following starting
lineup:

Wake
Forest Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
G C.J. Harris 6-3 185 So. 10.7 3.7
G Gary Clark 6-4 205 Sr. 10.6 2.3
G J. T. Terrell 6-3 175 Fr. 11.8 3.7
F Travis McKie 6-7 205 Fr. 12.6 7.5
C Carson Desrosiers 7-0 235 Fr. 4.2 3.5

Travis McKie leads the Demon Deacons in scoring and rebounding and is going to
land a spot on the ACC’s all-freshman team. He has played both power forward and
small forward and has not disappointed after coming out of high school as a top
75 recruit. McKie had 15 points and 4 rebounds against the Hokies in January,
but it’s worth noting that he took just 7 shots (making 3) and scored 8 of his
points from the line.

The three-guard combination of C.J. Harris, Gary Clark, and J.T. Terrell (who
didn’t start but played 27 minutes in the first game) combined for 44 points on
12-of-25 shooting in the game at Tech, including 7-of-14 from three point range.
Combined with McKie, they scored 59 of Wake’s 64 points with balanced scoring.

The problem for Wake is that they didn’t play anything resembling defense in
the first game. The Hokies blistered the Deacs for 58.6% shooting from the
field, Tech’s season high in ACC games, and the Hokies also tallied a
season-high (for all games) 23 assists on 34 made baskets. Tech’s starting
guards found the going easy, tallying 14 assists and turning it over just once
in 58 minutes of playing time.

Defense has been a problem for Wake Forest all season, as they are last in
the ACC in scoring defense, defensive field goal percentage, and defensive
rebounding. The only thing the Deacons do well on defense is block shots, where
they rank second in the conference and ninth nationally with 5.9 per game.
7-footers Carson Desrosiers and Ty Walker have combined for 120 blocks between
the two of them, though that didn’t seem to affect the Hokies in the first
matchup, when Wake blocked just four shots.

Wake Forest has made losing big an art form, compiling a conference-game
scoring margin of -18.8 points per game. The Deacons beat Virginia by five
points and lost to Miami by just one, but they have lost their other nine ACC
games by an average of 25.6 points per game, an astounding number.

Still, the Hokies as noted need to take care of business in this one. Tech is
fourth in the ACC standings and missed a golden opportunity at Virginia to put
some separation between themselves and the next three teams in the league, all
of whom are jockeying for position for a one-game bye in the ACC Tournament. A
win here would put the Hokies at 8-5 in the league with Saturday’s big matchup
against Duke ahead.

The game is set for 7:00 tonight on ESPN2, the first of four straight games
on the ESPN family of networks for the Hokies.

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