No. 16 Virginia Tech looks to bounce back vs. Wake Forest

NCAA Men's Basketball

Two teams coming off their lowest-scoring outputs of the season square off Saturday when No. 16 Virginia Tech faces Wake Forest in Atlantic Coast Conference play at Blacksburg, Va.

The Hokies (14-5, 8-4 ACC) never found their rhythm in Tuesday’s 69-53 home loss to Georgia Tech. The contest was the squad’s first since Feb. 6 due to a COVID-19 pause that led to the postponement of three games.

Wake Forest (6-12, 3-12) was even more anemic as it suffered a 60-39 home loss to Clemson on Wednesday. The Demon Deacons made just 12 of 47 field-goal attempts — a shaky 25.5 percent — and were outrebounded 40-22.

“There’s no way we’re going to win shooting 25 percent from the field,” Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said afterward. “I thought we missed a ton of open shots, especially early. We got a lot of shots at the rim where we just didn’t finish and that’s deflating to your team when you get good shots and you can’t make them. I thought we got a lot of open 3s, too.”

In the case of Virginia Tech, the rust was evident when it scored just 24 first-half points against the Yellow Jackets. But the attack never got moving as the club dropped to 9-2 at home.

“The last thing I’m going to do is blame anything on a tough stretch,” Hokies coach Mike Young said of the COVID-19 pause. “We’ve all lived it, bottom line is we got beat by a better team. I thought we lost our edge and got hit in the stomach and we stepped away from it and that is unlike our team.

“Win, lose or draw we had to get back on the floor, we had to play, we had to compete. With limited practices, a number of guys in that hotel for 10 days and they’re going to come in and now we are going to play an ACC league game, good luck to you.”

Young also made a controversial decision in letting Tyrece Radford rejoin the team after a suspension that followed his Jan. 24 arrest for drunk driving and carrying a concealed weapon. Radford was found guilty on the DUI charge and pleaded no-contest on the gun charge earlier this month.

Radford, who is second on the Hokies with an 11.1 scoring average, had 11 points in 36 minutes in his first action since Jan. 23.

“We followed the process and procedures of the department, and he was a champion throughout, did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Young said after the contest. “… Proud of him and how he’s handled himself over the last three weeks, month. Good to have him back on the floor. He makes us a better basketball team, needless to say. I thought he was really good.”

Keve Aluma leads the Hokies in scoring (15.5) and rebounding (7.9). Nahiem Alleyne is third on the team with a 10.1 scoring average.

Daivien Williamson leads Wake Forest with a 12.7 scoring average and he scored 16 points against Clemson for his fourth straight double-digit outing and 11th of the campaign.

The Demon Deacons have struggled to compete during their past three games as they have lost by an average of 21 points even though all three were at home.

Wake Forest lost 84-60 to Duke and 80-62 to North Carolina State prior to the 21-point setback against Clemson.

Radford scored 20 points when the Hokies defeated the host Demon Deacons 64-60 on Jan. 17.

Virginia Tech has won five straight and eight of the past nine meetings with Wake Forest.

–Field Level Media

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