After losing to the Demon Deacons just 4 days ago, Virginia Tech answered the call in the rematch and will move on in the ACC Tournament.
On Saturday in Blacksburg, the Hokies really didn’t shoot it all that poorly. In fact, they shot 51.7% to Wake’s 52.9%. However, the second half was much colder than the first, especially from 3, where Tech shot just 30.8% for the game.
These woes continued into the first half of tonight’s game when the Hokies shot just 3-11 from 3 in the first half. Ty Outlaw and Justin Bibbs, two players that have stepped up largely during Clarke’s absence, struggled early.
Outlaw missed 3 shot attempts early, and Bibbs shot just 1-9 in the half. Virginia Tech played pretty solid D all half, but Wake Forest was knocking down everything. The story of the half culminated with a Greg McClinton 76-foot heave that somehow went in to end the half.
The Hokies went into the locker room trailing 44-37. Yet at halftime, something changed. Surely it was Buzz’s pep talk that brought out an entirely different Hokies team in the second half. As Wake cooled off, Tech warmed up.
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Virginia Tech came out on fire in the second half, hitting five of their first seven shots. Wake Forest continued to get some points in the paint from first team All-ACC post-man John Collins, but the jump shot started regressing to the norm.
Slowly but surely, the Virginia Tech team that we know and love started to emerge. Even against Collins, Zach LeDay had a career-high 31 points and 15 rebounds.
With about 5 minutes to go, Collins picked up his fourth foul. He was not really a factor at all after that, and he ended up fouling out.
Another Hokie that deserves a huge shout out is Justin Robinson. He turned his ankle early in the first half, but he toughed it out and continued to play. In the second half, he took a hard fall and stayed down for an extra minute. Nonetheless, he got back up and continued to gut it out for his team.
One stat that would prove important in this game would be rebounds. The Hokies would need to hold their own in this category, and they did that and much more. Both teams had 33 rebounds and 10 offensive rebounds, led, of course, by Zach LeDay.
Overall, the Hokies ended up shooting 51.7% to Wake’s 47.7%. The Hokies shot 42% from 3 despite a slow first half, and they basically had the game locked up with about 2 minutes to go. They made it a little too interesting by missing free throws and giving up 3s down the strtetch, but Tech held on to win 99-90.
This is the type of win that embodies the spirit Buzz Williams has brought as a coach. The Hokies had great resilience despite a tough first half, led by point man Justin Robinson. Virginia Tech will have a tall order (see what I did there?) against Florida State tomorrow, who is the second tallest team in the nation.
The Hokies play basically 4 (or even 4 and 1/2) guards, so height can be their weakness. Nonetheless, Tech has ensured a spot in the NCAA tournament, and after tonight, they should enter the dance with their heads held high.