Win, and lit­tle else, for Hok­ies

Vir­ginia Tech cruises against strug­gling Wake For­est

The Washington Post Sunday - - COURTSIDE - BY MARK GIANNOTTO gi­an­not­tom@wash­

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.

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