When the day started Virginia Tech Basketball faced a situation that the majority of the team had not faced before. They were in a win or go home situation. With the vast majority of the roster being freshman, and this being their first experience with a major college conference tournament, Buzz Williams was facing his toughest coaching job of the year. The Hokies came into the game with Wake Forest the lower seed and the underdog. However, neither the Hokier nor Buzz Williams believed this. The team definitely didn’t play like the lower seed either.
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The Hokies came out firing on all cylinders early. They built a first half lead and led the Demon Deacons by 10 at half. Wake Forest would respond early in the second half, going on a 17-2 run to open the second period erasing the Hokie lead, and building a 7 point lead of their own. The Hokies would respond being carried by the stellar play of Jalen Hudson. Hudson was clutch all game long, and proved to be the talent Buzz Williams has said he could be. Hudson along with Adam Smith, and Malik Mueller hit not only big but timely shots down the stretch to get the Hokies the lead.
However, it was Jalen Hudson who would be the hero of the day scoring 12 out of the last 15 points to get the Hokies to the finish line, including what would become the game winning lay-up. Hudson would finish with a career high, as well as game high, 32 points. Jalen also was an exceptional 10-10 from the line. Hudson also chipped in 5 rebounds as well. The 32 points was the most by a Hokie in an ACC tournament game.
Even with the stellar game by Hudson the Hokies had to withstand a last minute comeback by the Deacons. Wake Forest, after a questionable out of bounds call, would have multiple chances to get the win. However, all the point blank shots by Wake Forest would fall short. The Demon Deacons were led by Codi Miller-McIntyre with 23 points. Devin Thomas also contributed 22 points, a stark difference from the first meeting between these two teams. The Hokies had hoped the emergence of Satchel Pierce would help keep Devin Thomas in check. That would not be the case, as Pierce would be in foul trouble most of the game. Another huge factor in the win for the Hokies was the excellent free throw shooting night they experienced. The Hokies hit all but one shot from the charity strip, going 13-14.
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With the win the Hokies will advance to face the Miami Hurricanes tomorrow night. The Hurricanes have destroyed the Hokies in the last two meetings. The Hokies will be looking to not allow the Hurricanes to make it three times in a row this season. If Jalen Hudson can continue to play hard, and score at will, the chances for the Hokies to claim victory are very good. Satchel Pierce will be depended on as well to do a good job on another big man.
Buzz Williams is really in his element as a tournament coach. He seemed very at ease today. The Hokies face a tough test tomorrow when they face the Hurricanes, this win today should give Virginia Tech Basketball the momentum it might need to make a run in this tournament. One thing is for sure if the Hokies can get a player off the bench to score more than five starters combined, a repeat of today might just be in their future.