No. 9 Virginia Tech found themselves in an interesting spot coming into today’s contest against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The team had a good record but had not played solid basketball as of late. Over the last two games, the Hokies had not looked like themselves, especially on the offensive end. The ball was not moving as quickly as we’ve typically seen in the Buzz Williams-era, players seemed out of sync, and every shot just seemed forced.
That could not have been more different tonight.
Wake Forest’s defense was ranked No. 200 in the country per KenPom, and the Hokies were able to do whatever they wanted. The shooting splits are actually a bit absurd. Tech had multiple stretches where they simply could not miss, finishing the game shooting 56.9 percent from the field, 42.3 percent from three, and 81.8 percent from the charity stripe. It’s difficult to lose when a team shoots that well in a game.
That isn’t to say the Hokies solved their issues as a whole. They still turned the ball over due to mental mistakes, ended up fouling Wake Forest jump shooters multiple times, and allowed the Deacons to shoot 38 free throws (although the referees played into that, certainly).
The Hokies were led by some outstanding individual shooting performances, namely from Ty Outlaw. The top-ranked shooter in the ACC continued to stay hot from behind the arc, going 4-of-5 from three and finished with 14 points. Alexander-Walker also had a strong performance, pestering Wake Forest from every spot on the floor. The outstanding sophomore tallied 24 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-7 from three. He was also the team’s leading rebounder with seven.
Justin Robinson also played well pitching in with 13 points, but had five turnovers, a continuing theme this year as Robinson is posting his worst turnover rate in his career. Ahmed Hill went just 1-of-4 from three but found other ways to contribute, especially on the fast break. Isaiah Wilkins was a surprise contributor, earning eleven minutes off the bench and finished with six points.
Wake Forest did much of their damage from three point range and the free throw line, allowing them to stay within striking distance for parts of the game despite shooting just 36 percent from the floor. Their leading scorer was Brandon Childress who had a game-high 28 points. Overall, the Hokies looked much quicker on their rotations and played with better energy than they had on the road for the past two games. That contributed to 16 Wake Forest turnovers, many of which allowed the Hokies to quickly jump into their offensive sets.
With the win, the Hokies move to 4-1 in conference play and 15-2 overall. They still sit near the top of the ACC standings, but the schedule gets tough very soon. They travel to No. 13 North Carolina on Big Monday, a place they have not had success in school history.