Behind a 55-point second half, the Hokies came back from an 11-point deficit to pick up their biggest win of the season over the 23rd ranked wake forest demon deacons, 87-83. With the win, the Hokies move into sole possession of second place in the ACC as they now prepare for first place duke on ACC Sunday Night Hoops.
Malcolm Delaney led the way tonight with 31 points and 9 rebounds. The 31 was one off his season-high of 32 against temple. For those of you Hokies who use Twitter, you probably follow @foe23 (that is Malcolm’s username) and might have noticed the tweet below from earlier in the day:
Delaney rarely tweets about games, so his prediction caught my attention and he certainly delivered. He kept the Hokies within single digits at halftime by scoring almost half of the Hokies first-half points (15 of 32). His three-pointer (although his toe was on the line) at the 6:30 mark in the second half completed the Hokies second-half comeback by giving Tech its first lead, 70-69, since the first half when they led briefly, 12-11. But Delaney’s biggest play of the game might have occurred a couple minutes earlier.
With the Hokies down by four with nine minutes to play, C.J. Harris stripped Terrell Bell in the backcourt. Harris was on the verge of converting the steal into a layup when Terrell made up for his mistake by swatting Harris’ shot into the hands of Delaney. Delaney raced down the length of the court, drove down the lane and made an acrobatic layup as he was fouled by Chas McFarland. It was McFarland’s 5th foul, and after Delaney made the free throw, the Hokies had cut the lead to one. It was a five-point turnaround, which also resulted in one of the deacs’ big men fouling out.
Helping Delaney on the offensive end tonight were the usual suspects, Dorenzo Hudson with 21 and JT Thompson with 16. Hudson continues to shine as our second best offensive weapon averaging 18 points per game since January 1. Jeff Allen was somewhat of a non-factor tonight, picking up four fouls with 16 minutes to go in the game.
If it were not for some poor free throw shooting by the Hokies in the final 90 seconds and the performance of Ish Smith, the Hokies might have won by double digits. Smith played a stellar game for the deacs as an assist maker in the first half and the only scorer in the final minutes of the second half.
During the first 30 minutes of the game, I was really impressed with the deacs balanced attack. They clearly are the best team that the Hokies have played all season. wake’s super sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu scored 21 points in the first 20 minutes, which is 5 shy of his career high. But the Hokies didn’t let Aminu reach a new career mark as he only pitched in four points in the entire second half. L.D. Williams picked up the slack for Aminu in the second half though and had a career shooting night. He finished with 19 points on 9 of 11 shooting, which is 11 points above his average. Bottom line, the 83 points given up by the Hokies were 22 points above their season average. It could have been much worse as wake reached the 61 point mark with 12 minutes to go in the game.
This should keep Virginia Tech off the bubble radar of bracketologists for awhile although I think it was total BS to call this a “must-win” game. There are plenty of games left to win. It definitely was our best opportunity for a high quality win, and we capitalized on it. That’s what this team has been about all season. Tech is winning the games that they should win and has lost when they were clear underdogs (except for the miami loss). If you’ve followed the Seth Greenberg era at Tech, this is not a characteristic of his teams. Past Greenberg teams have often tripped up against inferior competition and shocked the likes of #1 unc and wake forest or produced magical wins at duke and carolina. Let’s hope some of that past magic comes alive again this Sunday night in cameron indoor.
- The 55 second-half points by the Hokies are the most in a half by the Hokies since they scored 54 against Morgan State on March 19, 2008, in a 94-62 Virginia Tech win. I went back four seasons and that’s the closest the Hokies have come to 55 points in a half. Beyond that, the stats aren’t readily available on HokieSports.com. The record for second-half points for Tech is 73 vs. Florida State on Nov. 30, 1981.
- With the win, the Hokies even the all-time series between the two schools at 26.
- Tech improves to 6-2 in ACC play against the deacons, including an ACC tournament win in 2007.
- The Hokies have now won five straight ACC games, a new record for Tech since joining the conference in 2004.
- Tech is now 14-0 at the Cassell this season.
- Delaney is the ACC’s leading score in ACC-only play with 22 points a game. Dorenzo Hudson is the conference’s 7th leading scorer (after tonight) with 16.6 per game.
- Two stat categories that blew my mind when I saw the final box score were blocks and rebounds. Somehow, the Hokies out-rebounded the much bigger deacons 47-38 and blocked more shots (7) than wake (5). Considering just how much bigger inside wake is than Tech, I’d say that’s a major point of congratulations.
- Terrell Bell was a big reason for the Hokies’ rebounding edge by pulling down a career-high 14 boards. It was also the most rebounds by a Hokie this season. Allen had 13 against vmi and seton hall.