The Hokie basketball team traveled to Wake Forest feeling pretty good about themselves. They were fresh off their first ACC win this season, and leading scorer Justin Bibbs was set to return to action. Someone forgot to tell the Demon Deacons that they were supposed to lose. Even with the return of Justin Bibbs, who played well finishing with 10 points, the Hokies fell in a thriller 73-70.
The Hokies looked like the team to beat at the beginning of the game as they sprinted out to a solid lead. However, the Demon Deacon hung around and by the middle of the first half the momentum had shifted away from the Hokies. The Deacons used defense to erase a Hokie lead and take one of their own. The Hokies were penetrating to the lane like Buzz Williams wanted, however there were active Wake Forest defenders waiting on them. The Demon Deacons collected 6 block shots in the first half. The size of Wake Forest not only affected the shot taking ability of the Hokies, but it was a difficult obstacle for the Hokies on defense.
Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas was a major concern for Buzz Williams coming into the game. The Hokies seemed to do a good job keeping Thomas from taking over the game scoring the ball, sending multiple double teams. However, it was Thomas’s passing the ball that hurt the Hokies. When the Hokies doubled down on Thomas he would find the open shooter which in most cases was Konstantinos Mitoglou. Mitoglou like most European big man can shoot the outside shot well and shoot it is what he did. Mitoglou finished the game with 15 points. Devin Thomas really showed his maturity as he let the game come to him all game long. Thomas finished with only 9 points but he tallied 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
Jan 31, 2015; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies forward Christian Beyer (22) shoots the ball over Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Aaron Rountree III (33) during the second half at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Wake defeated Virginia Tech 73-70. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The second half started with the Hokies down four 32-28. It seemed the Hokie offense woke up in the second half. The Hokies finished the game with 6 players in double figures. Malik Muller continued his offensive output finishing with 10 points and 5 rebounds. Muller kept the Hokies close in the first half but it was Ahmed Hill and Devin Wilson who brought the Hokies back to erase the half-time deficit. Hill and Wilson both finished 11 points but it was Hill’s timely three point baskets that helped the Hokies the most. Adam Smith led the team in scoring with 12, but for the most part was quiet till two big shot down the stretch. Smith is earning his reputation as mister big shot.
Wake Forest continued their excellent shooting in the second half. Wake Forest was led in scoring by Codi Miller-McInyre who finished with 19. He along with Mitchell Wilbekin, who finished with 15, shoulder the load offensively in the second half and seemed to hit all the big shots for the Deacons.
A bright spot for the Hokies is the emergence of Christian Beyer. Beyer is earning all his playing time by doing all the little things coaches love. Today Beyer finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Beyer did a lot of other things that did not show up in the stat line. For instance the offense mostly ran though him, as he was the primary screener to get the offense started. Beyer is a pleasant surprise and hopefully can continue his good play.
The Hokies are coming into an easier stretch of games, so some more ACC wins are not completely out of the question. The Hokies are playing tough, and giving max effort. Hopefully with Muller and Adam Smith getting into a scoring groove, along with Bibb’s return can power the Hokies to more victories. One thing is for sure fans of the Hokies can be sure that more tight games are on the horizon.