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Virginia Tech Dominates Second Half to Beat Wake Forest 87-76

Hunter Cattoor 1 VT Miami 2023 TS
Photo Credit: Taelor Shema

Following a Kevin Miller three with 6:22 left in the first half, Wake Forest seemed unstoppable leading Virginia Tech 40-25 while making 9 of their first 10 three-point attempts. However, things can change quickly in basketball, and they surely did as Virginia Tech played some of their best basketball of the season the rest of the way, especially in the second half, on their way a dominant victory.

Virginia Tech beat Wake Forest 87-76 to improve to 16-13 on the season including 8-10 in the ACC while Wake Forest falls to 18-11 overall including 10-8 in ACC play. The 15-point deficit was the largest comeback of the Mike Young surpassing the 12-point deficit VT overcame in their victory over Boise State earlier this season and a 12-point deficit they overcame against North Carolina in January of 2020.

This was a tale of two games as Wake Forest came out on fire making 14 of their first 18 shots including nine of their first 10 three-point attempts to claim a 40-25 lead. While the Hokies weren't playing great defensively, the Demon Deacons were also absolutely on fire that did seemed inevitable to slow down, but not fully regress to the norm.

However, the Hokies tightened up on defense and dramatically turned things around, cutting the WF lead to nine by halftime before opening the second half on a 39-15 run. While their offense was firing on all cylinders, their defense also sharpened up to limit the good looks for Wake Forest from three-point range, with Wake going 2-15 from three after starting 9-10 from deep.

Tech was great offensively with only 20 assists to 10 turnovers while shooting 59.6% (34-57) from the field including 9-21 from three-point range. Tech was able to get offense all over the floor whether it was Hunter Cattoor or Sean Pedulla draining threes, Lynn Kidd dominating the paint, or Pedulla, Cattoor, and MJ Collins creating off the dribble or even the multitude of buckets off great cuts. Tech's play in the paint was particularly good outscoring the Demon Deacons 42-34 down there.

Hunter Cattoor had one of his best games of the season with 26 points on an impressive 9-15 shooting including 5-10 from three-point range plus 3-4 from the free-throw line while adding three rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Cattoor has had plenty of impressive performances over the course of his collegiate career but this was one of his finest.

After struggling against Efton Reid in the first matchup in Winston-Salem, Lynn Kidd was much better tonight dominating the paint with 21 points 9-11 shooting from the field and 3-4 from the free-throw line plus nine rebounds, three assists, and one block. He also had a team-high +17 plus/minus in his impressive 26 minutes of work.

Sean Pedulla continues to play well lately through the recent highs and lows for Tech overall, as he had 15 points on 6-12 from the field including 3-5 from three-point range plus six assists, four rebounds, three steals, and only one turnover. MJ Collins completed a great day for Tech's starting backcourt with 11 points on 5-7 from the field plus five assists, one rebound, and one steal.

Robbie Beran was productive with eight points, five rebounds, and one assist while Mylyjael Poteat added six points and one assist, and Tyler Nickel had four rebounds, two assists, and one steal.

Kevin Miller led Wake Forest with 21 points, six assists, and five rebounds while Efton Reid added 13 points and nine rebounds. Cameron Hildreth and Parker Freidrichsen each had 12 points while Hunter Sallis added 11 points and five rebounds.

Virginia Tech showed impressive mental toughness to stay focused after the hot start from Wake Forest and keep fighting in this game, putting together one of their best halves of the season for what is for now their fourth Q1 win of the season. Add in the fact that Wake Forest is a legitimately good basketball team despite being on the bubble, and there's plenty of reason for encouragement.

Even with having four Q1 wins at the moment and a strong strength of schedule, this win likely isn't enough to significantly do much to help Tech's basically dead NCAA Tournament at-large bid hopes. However, this should provide some great momentum heading into the final week of ACC play with a chance to build on that with games against Louisville and Notre Dame prior to the ACC Tournament.

This win also puts the Hokies in a much better spot to climb into the top nine of the league and avoid playing on Tuesday in Washington D.C.. At this point, earning a bye to make it where you only have to win four games in four days to win the ACC Tournament rather than five games in five days, with today's victory putting Tech in a much-better spot entering the final week.

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