After Tuesday night's 22-point loss to No. 4 Virginia, Virginia Tech was looking for a bounce back performance against a Wake Forest team coming off an upset win against NC State, but still considered arguably the weakest in the ACC. Unsurprisingly, the Hokies were able to take care of business led by their best offensive performance of conference play.
Virginia Tech beat Wake Forest 87-71 to improve to 15-2 overall including 4-1 in ACC play. Meanwhile, Wake Forest fell to 8-9 on the season including 1-4 in ACC play.
After shooting 50% in the second half at Virginia, the Hokies built on that with their best offensive performance of ACC play shooting 56.9% from the field including 42.3% from three-point range and 81.8% from the free-throw line. Two main reasons for that were their success attacking the paint along with creating numerous transition opportunities with VT having a 30-14 points in the paint advantage and a 15-4 fastbreak point advantage.
One of the most impressive stats on the offensive end was the fact that all eight Hokies that at least took one shot in this game shot 50% or better. Virginia Tech looked like the efficient offensive juggernaut that had disappeared at times during the start of ACC play.
Meanwhile, VT's defense stepped up helping force Wake Forest to have 16 turnovers while only having 11 of their own along with 8 steals. Outside of a 14-4 offensive rebounding advantage for Wake, the Hokies were dominant in all facets of this game with Wake Forest relying on a 27-18 scoring margin at the free-throw line to even lose by only 16.
It was back-and-forth early with Wake Forest leading for large swaths of the first 8 minutes. However, a 11-2 run gave Virginia Tech a 26-18 that would never shrink to less than 5 after that point. From there, the Hokies continue to put together a strong first half on the offensive end shooting 59.3% from the field on their way to seizing a 42-32 lead. While Wake was down 10 at halftime, it could have been much worse after the Demon Deacons scored 14 of their 32 points at the charity stripe.
Defensively, Virginia Tech was very active forcing 9 turnovers including 4 steals while holding Wake to a 31.8% shooting percentage. Virginia Tech was sloppy at times with 7 turnovers while also allowing 7 offensive rebounds, but the Hokies were dominant outside of those two areas. Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the offensive outburst with 12 points while every Hokie that took a shot was at least 40% from the field.
Virginia Tech blew the game wide open after a few minutes in the second half with the margin getting as large as 64-44 with the Hokies making their fair share of threes. Wake Forest continued to find ways to get to the free-throw line to help launch a 15-5 run that cut the VT lead down to 73-63 inside the final 6 minutes. From there, the Hokies were able to keep their double-digit lead on their to a comfortable victory.
Player of the Game: Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Virginia Tech's star sophomore showed why he's one of the ACC's best player with 24 points on 7-12 shooting from the field including 3-7 from three-point range. Alexander-Walker also led the Hokies with 7 rebounds along with 4 assists while only having 2 turnovers today.
Throughout the game, Alexander-Walker showed why he was the most talented player on the floor with his latest 20+ plus point performance that shows why he could even have All-American ambitions.
Kerry Blackshear imposed his will in the post at times with 4 blocks in this game along with 11 points and 4 rebounds. The Hokies' star big man was also able to handle having 2 first half fouls well only picking up one more in the second half on a night when the refs seemed to give out fouls every other possession.
Ty Outlaw had 14 points on 4-5 shooting from three-point range while also being one of three Hokies with 2 steals. Justin Robinson had his best game in weeks with 13 points on 5-10 shooting along with 3 assists and 2 steals, though his 5 turnovers are likely a slight concern.
Ahmed Hill was one of five Hokies to score in double figures with 12 points and 3 rebounds while Isaiah Wilkins had 6 points in 11 minutes, his first time breaking double-digit minutes in ACC play. Wabissa Bede was once again a defensive stalwart while also having 5 points and a team-high 5 assists. PJ Horne had 2 points in his first start in ACC play this season while Jon Kabongo also made a brief cameo.
Virginia Tech took care of business and now sets the stage for what will be an important top 15 matchup in Chapel Hill Monday between the Hokies and North Carolina. The best news for Virginia Tech may be the fact that their offense finally seems to be 100% in rhythm after putting on an 89-point show this afternoon.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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