Virginia Tech defeated Wake Forest 80-70 in Winston-Salem on Tuesday night to improve to 13-4 overall and 4-2 in the ACC. The Hokies have now won three games in a row, and three of their first four road games in ACC play. The Demon Deacons dropped to 8-8 overall and 1-5 in conference play.
Once again it was redshirt freshmen Landers Nolley and Tyrece Radford who led the way for Virginia Tech. Nolley had 21 points after being named the ACC Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this year, but it was actually Radford who stole the show on Tuesday. The 6-1 guard also finished with 21 points, but he also pulled down 13 rebounds in the process, and posterized 7-0 center Olivier Sarr with a highlight reel one-handed dunk. Radford was 7-of-9 from the field, and he also had four steals.
True freshman Jalen Cone also came off the bench to score double figures for the third consecutive game. He had 15 points, going 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range. Fellow true freshman Nahiem Alleyne added 10 points, while junior point guard Wabissa Bede had six points and nine assists.
Virginia Tech plays six freshmen in what is generally a nine-man rotation, which makes their performance this season even more impressive.
“Again, I continue to say it that nothing is going to surprise me with this team,” head coach Mike Young said. “They have a level of confidence, and it’s a great team in terms of preparation. It’s pretty unique and pretty special. I’ve had some young teams that were a little goofy and needed to grow up some…were leaving some things on the floor and needed to handle it a certain way. This team, you give it to them and they got it.”
The Hokies easily won the turnover battle, committing just nine to Wake Forest’s 18. However, it was in points off turnovers where they really made it count. The Demon Deacons managed to turn Tech’s nine turnovers into just two points, while the Hokies scored 19 points off turnovers. Wake also shot just 41.8% from the field, and Tech had more blocked shots than the Deacons (4-3) despite being the smaller team.
“We did what we typically do. 18 turnovers is pretty good,” Young said. “Our principle is there and we are sticking in our gaps; [we are] getting our hands on the ball to make deflections.”
After Tuesday night’s win, Virginia Tech is in fourth place in the ACC with a 4-2 record, slightly ahead of UVA and Boston College, who are each 3-2. That raises the important question: have expectations for this team changed? Mike Young admitted that his short-term expectations have indeed changed, though his long-term expectations remain the same.
“I have [changed my expectations]…back in October I was just trying to come up and gasp for air…but my big picture expectations haven’t changed because you can’t live like that. You have to take it one game at a time.”
Virginia Tech returns to action on Saturday when they host Syracuse in Cassell Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be televised by RSN. Check your local listings.
Game Notes From Virginia Tech
Records and Notables
- Virginia Tech improves to 13-4 overall and 4-2 in ACC play.
- This is now the second straight season that the Hokies have started 4-2 in the ACC.
- The Hokies have now won three straight ACC games, which is the longest streak since the 2018-2019 season. (1/26/19 – 2/2/19 – Syracuse, Miami (Fla.) and NC State)
- Mike Young is now 2-0 against Wake Forest, including defeating the Demon Deacons 56-52 as Wofford’s head coach. He is 1-0 against Danny Manning.
- Mike Young is the first coach at Tech to win three out of his first four road games since the Hokies joined the ACC in 2004.
- The Hokies have now defeated Wake Forest for a fourth straight time and a third consecutive time in Winston-Salem.
- Tech leads the all-time series over Wake Forest 36-31, owning seven out of the last eight contests, including the 87-71 victory over Wake in Blacksburg in 2019.
- UP NEXT: The Hokies will look for a season sweep against Syracuse when they take on the Orange on Jan. 18 at noon ET at Cassell Coliseum.
- Virginia Tech went with a different starting lineup for the first time since Coppin State on Nov. 8. Tech started Wabissa Bede, Tyrece Radford, Landers Nolley, P.J. Horne and Hunter Cattoor, marking Cattoor’s second start of the season.
- Tech shot a blistering 60 percent from the field in the second half. The Hokies also outscored the Demon Deacons 19-2 in points off turnovers, thanks to a season-high 11 steals caused.
- KEY FIRST HALF RUN: The Hokies led 13-10 with 11 minutes to go in the first when junior Wabissa Bede finished a driving layup followed by a jumper from redshirt freshman Landers Nolley. The North Carolina native, Jalen Cone, capped the run off with a triple to give Tech a 20-10 lead. With just under nine minutes to go, Wake went on a 21-5 run to get back into the contest and take a 31-25 advantage. Nolley responded with four straight free throws to give Tech a 33-31 entering halftime.
- KEY SECOND HALF RUN: With just under 15 minutes to go in the second, freshman Jalen Cone drilled back-to-back 3-pointers along with a jumper, giving Tech a 53-42 lead. With 11 minutes left in the contest, freshman Nahiem Alleyne hit from downtown, sparking an 11-0 run giving Tech a 66-46 lead. The Hokies cruised through the rest of the game, winning 80-70.
- Nolley and Radford each record 21 points, which is the first time two Tech players have scored 20-plus points since Nickeil Alexander-Walker (25 points) and Kerry Blackshear (20 points) did osoo on Jan. 5, 2019 against Boston College.
- Tyrece Radford recorded his second career double-double with career highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds. He also notched a career-high four steals.
- Landers Nolley recorded his 15th game this season of reaching double-figures and his seventh 20-point performance.
- Jalen Cone scored 15 points in the victory, which is now his sixth game reaching double figures in scoring and third straight game doing so (19 at Syracuse, 10 vs. NC State).
- Wabissa Bede dished out nine assists and now has seven or more assists in eight games this season.
- PJ Horne recorded two blocks against the Demon Deacons, tying his career high.