The Hokies faced Wake Forest in what could prove to a pivotal game. A loss would have dropped them to 1-3 in conference play, a significant blow to a team that had tournament hopes. In order to get a result tonight, Virginia Tech needed to improve upon their 24.5 percent three-point conversion rate during conference play. They did just that, going 12-of-28 from three, their highest total since making 15 exactly one month ago against Maryland Eastern-Shore.
Ahmed Hill led the way for the Hokies, knocking down 5-of-10 from downtown for a team-high 21 points. Bibbs also had an impressive shooting night, going 3-of-6 from three and 7-of-10 overall, finishing with 18 points and 4 rebounds. Both sharpshooters were in slumps as of late, and it was encouraging to see both of them turn it around tonight, even if Wake Forest was one of the worst teams at defending the perimeter in the country.
It was easy to tell Virginia Tech was back to their old selves, looking confident on offense and active on defense. An early Bibbs and-one and Hill triple seemed to jumpstart the team. They jumped out to a 21-7 lead via a mixture of transition buckets in addition to threes. The Hokies ended the half strong as well with an 11-2 run heading into the locker room.
Wake Forest was looking to punch the Hokies in the mouth with a 9-0 run out of the break, but the Hokies were able to respond with a run of their own. Wake Forest shot 6-of-13 from downtown in the second half, cutting the Hokies’ 15 point lead to single digits with under 8 minutes left. Tech only shot 12-of-30 in the period, but were able to come up with clutch buckets from Robinson and Blackshear to help keep the Hokies above water.
The Hokies did not magically become a great team overnight, but their defensive intensity has improved over the last week. Players were in the right position to help and we saw much more ball pressure tonight, generating 13 Wake Forest turnovers. This team is much, much better when they can force turnovers and it was evident tonight. They need to continue that going into the meat of the conference schedule.
Wake Forest was led by guard Brandon Childress, who led the team with 17 points. The Deacons also got contributions from Keyshaun Woods and Doral Moore who each chipped in with 12 points apiece.
Meanwhile, the Hokies had five players in double figures. In addition to Hill and Bibbs, Clarke was aggressive in attacking the rim and finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Justin Robinson had a nice game with 13 points (many of them coming late) and ended with 7 assists. Blackshear played great defense, was active on the glass, and scored 10 points in addition to notching 6 rebounds.
The Hokies travel to Louisville on Saturday for their first meeting against the Cardinals this season.