Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
The Virginia Tech men's basketball team picked up their third straight win in the ACC last night with an 80-70 victory at Wake Forest. Tyrece Radford's 21 points and 13 rebounds led the Hokies in Winston Salem.
The Hokies struggled to get things going early as they shot just 5-16 from beyond the arc in the first half. Against a Wake Forest team who has struggled to defend the three this season, Mike Young was looking for a little bit more.
In addition, Virginia Tech found themselves in a bit of early foul trouble. When Wake Forest put in 7-footer Olivier Sarr, the Hokies had trouble guarding him without fouling.
PJ Horne and John Ojiako each picked up two early fouls, which forced Young to give more playing time to Branden Johnson. Ojiako even picked up his third foul in the first half, but Johnson did a good job holding things down in his seven minutes of play.
Virginia Tech came out looking much better after halftime. They opened the half on a 15-6 run to take an 11-point lead and force a Wake Forest timeout.
For the next few minutes, the teams simply traded baskets. However, right before the under 12 media timeout, Wabissa Bede and Andrien White had a disturbance and each received technical fouls. Wake Forest cut the lead to nine points after making both technical free throws.
Instead of losing momentum, the Hokies went on yet another run, this time outscoring the Deacons 10-2 over the next two-plus minutes. The highlight of that run was 6-1 freshman Tyrece Radford laying down a posterizing dunk on 7-foot junior Olivier Sarr.
After the Hokies stole all the momentum with that dunk, they never looked back. Wake Forest was able to trim the lead a bit by fouling the Hokies early, but they were unable to get the deficit to single digits for the rest of the contest. In the end, Virginia Tech cruised to a relatively stress free victory.
With the win, Virginia Tech moves to 13-4 overall and 4-2 in ACC play. For what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Mike Young is far exceeding expectations.
For comparison, Buzz Williams went just 2-16 in conference play during his first season at Virginia Tech. Even though the program is in a better place now than it was then, Young is still putting together an unprecedented first season.
Virginia Tech does have some things to clean up before their rematch with Syracuse at Cassell Coliseum on Saturday. First, the Hokies were just 17-29 on free throws. That is definitely something that will need to improve as ACC play ramps up.
In addition, Virginia Tech was a bit foul happy themselves last night. The Hokies committed 24 personal fouls, and both John Ojiako and Landers Nolley fouled out. The good news is that last night's foul issues were atypical for a Tech team that has done well at avoiding fouls this season.
Despite these few concerns, multiple Virginia Tech players turned in great performances. Jalen Cone had 15 points in his return to his home state, and he was 4-6 from beyond the arc. Wabissa Bede added nine assists and six points of his own.
Landers Nolley tallied another 21 points for the Hokies, making this his third straight game with at least 20 points. This was all in addition to Tyrece Radford's double-double with 21 points and 13 boards.
Overall, the Hokies should feel good about their performance Tuesday night. They picked up their third straight conference win, and they know what they need to work on ahead of Saturday's home game against Syracuse.