After a 24-point loss at Duke on Saturday, the Virginia Tech Hokies were looking for a bounce-back win against a current NCAA Tournament team in Wake Forest. Both of these teams fought hard in what was a high-scoring, wild game in Cassell Coliseum between two teams desperate to get a big win.
In the end, the Hokies were tested but used grit to get a big win.
In what turned out to be a wild second half, the Virginia Tech Hokies prevailed in the end 93-91 over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Both teams struggled defensively tonight, but the Hokies had the edge just enough offensively in what was a very nervy game.
Virginia Tech controlled the first half and led 45-38 at halftime though a few missed layups prevented the lead from being bigger at the half. Wake Forest got back in the game quickly with a 15-6 run that set up what would be a back-and-forth game the rest of the way.
Virginia Tech and Wake Forest both kept fighting in a game that had a few lead changes. However, the Hokies were able to make some big shots down the stretch including a Justin Bibbs three that put Virginia Tech up by 4 at the time. However, Wake Forest made a late three to make it a one-point game before fouling Kerry Blackshear, sending the freshman to the line.
Blackshear was the last guy on the floor Hokie fans wanted at the line, but the freshman made two clutch free throws. However, Codi Miller-McIntyre drew a foul on a three-point shot with 1 second left, but missed the first free throw and then had an airball on his attempted intentional miss for his third free throw to seal a Virginia Tech win.
Virginia Tech’s defense was disappointing as Wake Forest shot almost 60% from the field, but the Hokies were extremely good otherwise. Virginia Tech had one of its best nights from the free-throw line shooting 29-of-35 while the one shining part of Virginia Tech’s defense was that they had 8 steals while Wake Forest had 16 total turnovers.
The Hokies also did a great job of protecting the basketball with only 6 turnovers while Virginia Tech had some solid ball distribution with 14 assists. Virginia Tech did get outrebounded 31 to 22, but Wake Forest only had 1 more offensive rebound than the Hokies, exposing how Wake Forest had more rebounds mostly because Virginia Tech simply missed more shots.
The star of the night was Justin Bibbs who had a career-high 32 points in what was his best game in a Virginia Tech uniform. Bibbs was only 3-for-7 from beyond the attack, but was aggressive attacking the rim and shot 12-of-18 from the field along with making all five of his free throws.
Bibbs has shown the potential to have 25+ point outbursts in the past, and is going to be very important to Virginia Tech’s continued success. Bibbs is now going to force more opponents to give him some space from beyond the arc knowing that Bibbs can be very effective at getting to the rim.
Zach LeDay got in foul trouble and had to sit on the bench for the second half the first 20 minutes, but the junior big man once again delivered with 20 points as he made all four of his three-point attempts and went 4-for-5 from the charity stripe. LeDay hit two big threes back-to-back after Wake Forest got a one-point lead to send the Hokies on a mini 6-0 run.
LeDay also was impressive at the beginning as he had an involvement, whether he scored or assisted, on Virginia Tech’s first 14 points which included 2 of his 4 assists.. LeDay is only going to get better and has formed a great lead duo for Virginia Tech with Justin Bibbs.
Justin Robinson had the best game of his freshman season and impressed Buzz Williams as the freshman had 17 points with included a 10-for-12 shooting performance from the free-throw line. Robinson was aggressive in attacking the rim and drawing fouls throughout the game, and then did a great job of stepping up and making some big free throws.
Robinson did at one point get into it with Wake Forest big man Konstantinos Mitoglou with Mitoglou picking up a flagrant and Robinson receiving a technical. Robinson played tough against the Demon Deacons, and there is plenty of reason to be excited about him going forward.
Satchel Pierce provided some good minutes with all 6 points coming within the span of a few minutes in the second half along with having 4 rebounds. Kerry Blackshear made the two big free throws late in a solid game with 6 points and 3 rebounds, but definitely has the potential for bigger games.
Seth Allen and Jalen Hudson both are still struggling and shot a combined 2-of-10 from field and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc while scoring a total of 8 points. If the Hokies can get Allen, Hudson, or both of them going, Virginia Tech could become one of the more dangerous, offensive teams in the ACC.
The Hokies have turned around their season in 2016 and have already surpassed their ACC win total last season only four games into ACC play. Virginia Tech is playing like a team that will be playing some postseason basketball this season with the NIT seeming to be in reach if the Hokies can keep this going on the road.
Virginia Tech now has to stay focused on two road games against Georgia Tech and Notre Dame with a showdown with North Carolina looming. These next two games have the potential to tell us a lot about how good of a season this will be for the Hokies.