The Hokies needed an ego-boost after blowing a big lead Thursday at North Carolina. Enter Wake Forest.
Virginia Tech has had a lot of recent success against the Demon Deacons, having won six of seven games overall and the last four meetings in Blacksburg going into Saturday's game. Wake limped into the matchup with a 7-10 with losses to Winthrop, UNC-Wilmington and Presbyterian under its belt. On paper it looked like the Hokies should be able to come away with a win against Wake, but few could have predicted how dominating Tech was.
The Hokies spotted Wake a 7-0 lead, out-scored it 44-17 the rest of the first half and then cruised to a 29-point win. They shot 58.6 percent, out-rebounded Wake by seven, forced 16 turnovers and had 39 points from their bench. Yes, the Hokies' bench, which includes three scholarship players, contributed 39 points.
It was an off night for Malcolm Delaney after his 28-point performance against North Carolina, but that didn't matter. Six other Hokies scored in double-figures, led by Manny Atkins with 16 points off the bench. In a game that really taught us nothing about the Hokies, it was still great to see Atkins have a big game.
The Hokies have desperately needed to see progression from Atkins or Jarell Eddie since it was announced Dorenzo Hudson and Cadarian Raines would miss the rest of the season. Both played well against Wake Forest, especially Atkins who was 5-for-7 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from behind the arc.
If anything, Saturday's game was good for the Hokies' confidence. They didn't let down against an inferior opponent despite playing 48 hours from suffering a heart-breaker. Their next game at Maryland will be a much better test since I think the Terps and the Hokies are on about the same level. Maryland is obviously deeper and will probably have the best player on the floor in Jordan Williams. Both games against the Terps will be huge for both teams in terms of positioning on the bubble so it's going to be a battle.
Maryland will be the ones coming into the game off a disappointing defeat. Meanwhile the Hokies and Manny Atkins will go into it coming off a dominating performance.