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Virginia Tech 87, Wake Forest 83: Hokies Will Play for First Place in the ACC Sunday at Duke

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Virginia Tech's game at Duke Sunday will be for the lead in the ACC standings by virtue of the Hokies' 87-83 win over Wake Forest Tuesday. The win was Tech's fifth in a row and its eighth in its last nine games.

The Hokies struggled from field in the first half and trailed by 11 points early in the second. However, they were able to get to the line 47 times, admittedly thanks in part to questionable officiating. While the officiating was consistently bad, Tech did shoot 20 more free throws than Wake Forest during the game.

That was at least in part to Tech forcing Wake Forest to settle for jump shots. According to SCACC's data, the Deacs shot 28 jumpers to 18 layups and made under 40 percent of those jump shots. 

Malcolm Delaney again led the Hokies with 31 points and fell one rebound short of a double-double. Delaney continues to come up big in big games. He and Maryland's Greivis Vasquez are separating themselves with the rest of the field for ACC POY honors.

Jeff Allen was again in foul trouble and was limited to 18 minutes. Terrell Bell made up for Allen on the glass, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds including seven on the offensive end. J.T. Thompson had another big game as Tech's sixth man and picked up the slack on offense for Allen. He scored 16 points and shot 5-for-10 from the field.

The Hokies had a lot more room to operate in the paint when Wake Forest center and nuisance Chas McFarland fouled out with just under nine minutes to play in the game. McFarland's foul trouble limited him to 15 minutes, but he scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds during those 15 minutes. 

Wake was led by forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds.

Tech now faces its attention on the Evil Empire. The Hokies travel to Durham to play Duke Sunday. Depending on the result of Duke's game Wednesday at Miami, the winner will be in the top spot of the ACC standings. But no matter what happens in Coral Gables the Hokies will be first in the ACC if they can win at Duke. The Blue Devils have won their last six league games and are unbeaten at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season.

The game is a big one for the Hokies and Delaney. If Tech wins, it will likely head to the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in its final four regular season games. If Delaney has a good game, he'll make a case for ACC POY depending on the result of his showdown with Vasquez Feb. 27.