Virginia Tech Beats Wake Forest 80-70

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Virginia Tech
Tyrece Radford and Landers Nolley yet again had big games for Virginia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

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.

Box Score

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.

Team Notes

  • 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.

Individual Notes

  • 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.


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24 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. This team seems a lock to win 20 what w/14 league games left. Twenty wins, including MSU and an 11-9 record in the ACC, not to mention a tournament win or 2, ought to be enough to get a ticket to, “The Dance” for a 4th straight season.

    1. Was Radford’s dunk legal? My understanding of the rules is that it was not. He lets go of the ball and then touches it while it is “in the cylinder.” Please, someone correct me! Just curious. Great player.

      1. Good questions but impossible to tell from those camera angles.

        The ruling on the court of a posterizing dunk stands.

      2. It was 100% legal. The ball does appear to leave his hand briefly then he reconnects with it and jams it home, but when it leaves his hand it is not in the cylinder. Regarding the rule you’re thinking of the interference typically comes on a tip in or dunk put back attempt but the ball has to have contacted the rim initially before the interference rule can be called from what I understand. So if he tried dunking it, let go or lost control and the ball hit the rim or was on the rim or in the cylinder and he re-touched it to put it in that would not be legal. But since it had not reached the rim/cylinder yet it was legal. I could be wrong but that’s my take on the rule.

  2. I’m so impressed with Radford! What a team asset he is. Watched him without the ball last night to see how he positions himself for rebounds…dude is a Jack Russel terrier of juts and darts. Will not let anyone block him out.

  3. I enjoyed last year’s team. HOWEVER, this team I just love to watch play. Yes, they are young. Yes, they are short. But DAMN they are just fun to watch. Perhaps, we all thought; OK this is a lost season due to the coaching change. But Coach Young has inspired, invigorated and instilled a great attitude to this team. They play like a team and they play like they are having FUN.

    Thanks Coach Young and thanks to the team. Squeeze some OJ this weekend!!!

  4. What impresses me about this team is how hard they play on both sides of the ball. They out-fought and out-hustled WF all night. The number of rebounds they get from taller more athletic guys is amazing. They still look young sometimes (especially trying to run out the clock at the end of the game) but that will improve with experience. Hard to teach effort (ask Roy Williams). I agree with the other posters – this is a fun team to watch.

  5. Good win. Looks like an experienced team, despite their youth. Bede improved by completing some of his drives with points, but needs to spend a day shooting free throws. He is the ball handler and will be fouled continuously in a close game, 0-4 is unacceptable.

    1. Coach is not blind to his PG’s shooting ability. If you notice, Bede was out of the game for a good chunk there at the end. The ball will NOT be in Bede’s hands if we’re protecting a lead and getting fouled. It will be in Nolley’s, Cone, and even Alleyne. Look at Bede’s shooting numbers, 55% FT, 17% (6 of 35) from 3.

      1. He should only have a green light for lay-ups until he gets his shot back. His D and leadership (assists) deserve PT, but not late in a close game!!

    2. It would be interesting to see Bede’s free throw shooting % last 5 mins of game. My recollection is he hit all FT at the end of the game when fouled intentionally against Syracuse and Clemson. But I don’t recall other games. If it’s better at the end that’s helpful but strange and all points matter. He just can’t shoot, period. His jumper misses are usually short off the front of the rim or long off the back. His misses aren’t close. It’s frustrating. But he is invaluable in other ways. If he looks to penetrate more could help us. I’m sure he practices shooting. Like many NBA players, just doesn’t have the raw skill to develop a consistent jump shot or free throw. When Bede and Cone are on the floor together it seems to work really well.

  6. Radford jumps like Les Henson did as I‘ve posted before. Loved me some Les, love me some Radford’s game! Great team win! Ps: Henson had a highlight dunk shown as a regular teaser on national TV right before we played Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in the NCAA’s. Bet it’s in the archives somewhere. Beat Cuse and Whiney Bloheim this weekend!!! Keep it going guys!!

      1. Yee ha! I remember that. Was watching on TV. Went so high, the ball went out of camera before coming down and going through.

      2. My father was interviewing to be a professor at Tech. They took him to this game. We moved to Blacksburg 6 months later. They still live there.

      3. That was in old Blow gym, which, as I understand it, has a low ceiling, making that heave even more remarkable. I was watching on TV and recall it like it was yesterday!!

  7. I know we won’t win them all, but as I’m watching these games now, I am so much more relaxed than I’m accustomed to. These guys play loose and that carries over.

  8. I have really enjoyed watching each player on the team start to embrace their roles a little more each game (especially Radford). Started getting a little anxious when they began talking about Nolley and the old “one and done” phrase came up. I know it’s been said many times but it’s beyond me how he was able to put together a team like this so quickly. Sure we’ll have another cold night soon but these guys are fun to watch!

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