Jalen Hudson exploded for a career-high 32 points, the most scored by a Virginia Tech player this season, and scored the game-winning basket to lead the Hokies over Wake Forest, 81-80, in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.
Hudson scored his 32 points in 29 minutes, going 10-of-18 from the field (2-3 on three-pointers) and a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. He also tied for the team lead in rebounds with five, but his most important play of the day came with 11.7 seconds left, when he knifed into the lane off an inbounds play and scored a lay-in to put the Hokies up 81-80.
Wake answered with a drive down the lane by Codi Miller-McIntyre (23 points), who was met by Hudson and Devin Wilson about eight feet from the basket. Miller-McIntyre lost control of the ball, and it went out of bounds with 6.1 seconds left. The original ruling was out of bounds on Virginia Tech, but the referees reviewed the video to be sure.
Replays showed the ball caroming out of bounds off Miller-McIntyre (all three TV announcers said definitively that the call was going to be overturned, and the ball was going to be awarded to Virginia Tech after the review), but the officials failed to overturn the call, and gave the ball to the Demon Deacons under their own basket.
Overheard ACC official saying they got the call wrong at the end of the game. They’re happy VT won so they avoided that controversy
— Max Esterhuizen (@MaxEsterhuizen) March 10, 2015
Wake inbounded the ball to Dinos Mitoglou, who missed a 15-foot baseline jumper with 4 seconds left. Wake’s Devin Thomas caught the rebound and missed the point-blank putback. Miller-McIntyre tipped it again, but his shot missed as well, and Shane Henry snared the rebound for Tech as the buzzer sounded.
The wild finish was symbolic of the back-and-forth game, which was often played at a frantic pace. The Hokies broke open a close game late in the first half, ending the half on a 13-2 run to take a 41-31 half time lead. Tech shot 51.5% in the first half (4-10 from three-point range) and outrebounded Wake Forest 18-17. By contrast, Wake shot just 37.5%, hitting just 3-of-13 from three-point range.
The Hokies had a chance to blow the game open early in the second half, but Virginia Tech missed nine of their first 11 shots after the break, including four three-pointers. Tech only scored eight points in the first six minutes of the second half, and the Deacs finally tied it at 49 after a three-pointer by Miller-McIntyre with 13:46 to go.
The next ten-plus minutes were back and forth, and with 1:03 left, Hudson hit two free throws to put the Hokies up 79-74. But Wake sandwiched two three-pointers around an offensive foul by Hudson, including a bomb from Mitoglou that put Wake up 80-79 with 25 seconds left, setting the stage for Hudson’s game-winner and Wake’s final dramatic possession.
The keys to the Hokies’ win were free throw shooting and turnovers. Fueled by Hudson’s 10-of-10 mark from the line, the Hokies shot 13-of-14 on free throws, to Wake’s 13-of-17.
The Demon Deacons only turned the ball over ten times, but the Hokies beat that with a season-low four turnovers, and Tech outscored Wake 16-8 in points off turnovers. That made up for a 36-28 rebounding deficiency for the Hokies, including 12-8 on the offensive glass.
Led by Hudson’s 32 points, the Hokie bench outscored Wake’s bench 51-23.
Many other statistics were effectively even:
- Field goals: VT 48.4% (30-62), Wake 46.0% (29-63)
- 3-pointers: VT 8-19, Wake 9-24
- Free throws: VT 13-14, Wake 13-17
- 2nd chance points: Wake 17, VT 13
Tech’s only other double-figure scorer was Ahmed Hill with 12. Justin Bibbs scored nine, making four of his last six shots. Tech was led in rebounding by Hudson and Christian Beyer, both with five.
Wake Forest’s leading scorers were Miller-McIntyre (23) and Devin Thomas (22). Thomas paced Wake with nine rebounds, but his final missed putback was his only offensive board of the day.
The Hokies will play #6 seed Miami in the final game Wednesday night, starting at approximately 9:30 PM. Miami beat Tech twice this year, 76-52 in Coral Gables and 82-61 in Blacksburg. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and the ACC Network.