Win, and little else, for Hokies
Virginia Tech cruises against struggling Wake Forest
Blacksburg, Va. — Other than the obvious benefits it will have in the ACC standings, there was little the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team could gain from Saturday night’s 94-65 victory over Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons lost their first two conference games by a combined 40 points, in addition to defeats against Stetson, Presbyterian and UNC Wilmington. Coming into the weekend, Wake Forest was 254th in the RPI, the second-worst ranking in the country for a team in a major conference.
To put it simply, an upset would have been disastrous as Virginia Tech tries to will itself to an NCAA tournament berth with just eight scholarship players.
But after watching a six-game winning streak and a 16-point lead slip away at North Carolina less than 48 hours earlier, perhaps the last thing these depleted Hokies needed was another down-to-the wire affair.
And much to the delight of the crowd at Cassell Coliseum, the Demon Deacons were as bad as advertised.
After falling behind 7-0 to start, the Hokies scored 35 of the game’s next 44 points, opening a 20-point halftime lead.
They were not threatened in the second half — and the margin balooned to 30 points.
Virginia Tech had seven players finish with at least 10 points. Sophomore Manny Atkins led the way with a season-high 16 points. Every player in the normal eight-man rotation had at least one field goal by end of the first half.
Guard Gary Clark scored a team-high 16 points for the Demon Deacons.
Virginia Tech (11-5, 2-2 ACC) has won seven of its past eight games after beginning the season 4-4.
Just as against the TarHeels, it was a barrage of three-pointers that gave Virginia Tech a commanding lead early on. But this time, it wasn’t guard Malcolm Delaney doing much of the damage; instead, some of the lessheralded players got in on the fun.
With the Demon Deasons in a 2-3 zone, Virginia Tech made seven three-pointers before halftime, including two apiece from Atkins, senior Terrell Bell (12 points) and freshman Jarell Eddie. The performances turned in by Eddie (12 points) and Atkins were of particular importance to Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg. He’s been in search of some additional scoring with so many key contributors sidelined.
Greenberg’s standouts, Delaney and forward Jeff Allen, combined for just 19 points. The Hokies’ bench, meanwhile, accounted for 39 points, while the team shot 58.6 percent.
Many of those open looks came courtesy of ball movement that the Hokies can only hope to replicate Thursday when they travel to College Park for a more challenging conference matchup against Maryland in what will be a crucial game for both teams' NCAA tournament hopes.
Delaney finished with a gamehigh nine assists, and as a team Virginia Tech finished with 23 assists to 10 turnovers, their best assist-to-turnover ratio of the season. In the process, Delaney moved into third place on the school’s all-time assists list.
Even theHokies’ glaring weakness this year, a lack of frontcourt depth, couldn’t be exposed by Wake Forest (7-11, 0-3).
Virginia Tech outrebounded Wake Forest, 30-23, while forward Victor Davila scored more points (14) than he ever has against an ACC opponent.
These, though, aren’t the sort of victories that have evaded Virginia Tech the past three seasons when it fell just short of an NCAA tournament berth.
But on this evening, the upset that didn’t materialize mattered more than anything else that transpired on the court.