Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 22, 2014

Wake Forest topples Hokies

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Looking to end a 17-game ACC road losing streak?

What better place to stop than Virginia Tech.

Travis McKie keyed a 43-point first quarter with 15 points, breaking out of a slump with five 3s and 24 points, leading Wake Forest to its first ACC road   win since 2012 with a convincing 83-77 victory over Virginia Tech in front of an announced audience of 5,156 at Cassell Coliseum

Wake Forest (13-6, 3-3) had last won an ACC road game at Boston College in 2012. The Demon Deacons improved to 2-27 in four years of league games away from Winston-Salem under head coach Jeff Bzdelik.

"It makes the bus drive home a litle nicer," Bzdelik said. "I was thinking about telling the bus driver to go to Wilmington and to Charlotte and just drive around so we can enjoy it before we get back home."

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech (8-10, 1-5) dropped its fifth straight game and seventh in the its last eight games.

"It was a tough road loss for us, we dug ourselves to big a hole in the first 10 minutes of the game," Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson said. "We dug ourselves too deep of a hole to come out of it. I thought we did a good job of fighting in the second half, but it was just too much for us."

Wake Forest led from the start, taking 5-0 on the cold-shooting Hokies, eventually building the lead to 40-19, while settling for a 43-27 advantage at the break. Virginia Tech missed its first 10 shot attempts, and promptly fell behind 10-2 before Cadarian Raines made a dunk with 15:03 on the clock.

"We got a big lift tonight when we just started making shots early on," Bzdelik said. "I know we shot the ball well out of the gate."

Virginia Tech started slow, and it doomed the Hokies to defeat.

"We made some mistakes, especially in the first half, defensive mistakes, and we are not built to come back from a 20-point defict, we are just not built to do that right now," Johnson said. "We are not deep, we are not shooting the ball well, we are just not built to do that so we will learn from that."

Virginia Tech, which played without injured guards Adam Smith and Ben Emelogu, missed numerous point-blank shots, including several dunks and layups, which left the Hokies' top four inside players making just 9-of-32 attempts.

"I think we were rushing it, we left a lot of points out there," said Johnson, whose Hokies outrebounded the Deacons 38-37, including 22-12 on the offensive glass. "We did a good job of getting to the offensive glass, but we didn't convert. Our effort was there. We got to the glass, but we didn't make them and convert."

The Demon Deacons made 53.6 percent (30-56) from the field in the game, including 17-31 in the opening half. They were 9--16 from 3-point range, with 7-10 before the break, led by McKie, who had made 1-of-15 from long distance in his previous five games.

He had no such trouble in this one, making four 3s and 15 points in the opening half, and finished with 24 points, making 5-of-6 from long range, and 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

"Travis, who had been struggling with his confidence lately, just gained a lot of confidence," Bzdelik said. "Over the last couple of days he has practiced well and just played really in a way flawlessly.

"Thirty-three minutes, no turnovers, he just really played very well and we just fed off of that."

Johnson said the game plan was to keep McKie from scoring, but defensively it was a long night for the Hokies.

"Our defense let us down, I didn't think it was very good in the first half," Johnson said. "They made some shots, but we left them open. Give them credit, they executed their offense and made some shots, but our defense was not very good tonight, especially in the first half."

Virginia Tech, which made 33.8 (22-65) of its shot attempts, were just 7-31 in the opening half to fall behind by 16 at the break. The Hokies did trim the lead to 10, at 44-34, on a 3 by Jarell Eddie with 17:55 on the clock, but Codi Miller-McIntyre sparked a quick 7-0 run, making three drives to the hoop and a free throw for the Deacons.

Miller-McIntyre had a stellar night, recording 20 points and 10 rebounds, the first Wake Forest player to do so since NBA superstar Chris Paul reached those totals in 2004.

"Everyone played well. Travis got us going and Codi kind of just capped it off," Bzdelik said. "We called some plays to put the ball in his hands."

Wake Forest was able to push the lead back to 19, 55-36, with 15:32 to go, but freshman point guard Devin Wilson led the Hokies back, scoring 25 of his 26 points in the second half to help the Hokies claw to within striking distance.

Wilson was 3-for-4 from 3-point range, 11-14 from the free throw line and also had four assists and two steals. Eddie added 20 points for Virginia Tech, while Trevor Thompson finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

"I am speechless with the way (Wilson) is playing, and he is doing it playing 40 minutes, guarding the other team's best perimter player in Miller-McIntyre tonight,"Johnson said. "Night in and night out, he just keeps getting better and better and better."

Both teams were called for a combined 43 fouls, including 25 in a long second half. The Hokies, who were 24-33 from the free throw line, were able to extend the gane and pull within eight on a 3 by Eddie with 2:50 left, but once again Miller-McIntyre scored five points in succession to build the lead back to 11.

"It was just a great team win from every aspect," said Bzdelik, who also received seven points and nine rebounds from Devin Thomas, eight points and seven boards from Arnaud William Adala Moto, and eight points and three blocks from Roanoke, Va., native Andre Washington.

"Everybody contributed, it was just a very pleasing win for a basketball coach. You have 17 assists on 30 baskets, and a lot of good stuff."

Virginia Tech finally reached the final six-point margin on a 3 by Wilson in the final seconds, as the Hokies fell to 1-6 in their last seven games, and five of those were at home.

"It bothers me that we lost, it doesn't bother me what their record was coming in," Johnson said. "It bothers me that we lost another game, be it home, away, it bothers me that we lost definitely. Coming in we are home and it is a winnable game."

Up next for Virginia Tech is a visit to state rival Virginia on Saturday in Charlottesville.

Johnson knows its up to him to turn around the Hokies, which started the season at 7-3, but have won just one game since then.

"They are looking at me to see how I respond, how I act coming into practice," Johnson said. "We have got to stay with the routine. We are going to come in and we are going to keep working hard and learn from this film...

"I think this team still has confidence and still has got fight in them. If they didn't we wouldn't have played like we did in the second half in these last two games, but we can't wait until the second half. That is something we have got to continue to talk to them about and learn from, but we have got to find a way to come out ready to play."

— Contact Brian Woodson at bwoodson@bdtonline.com or on Twitter @bdtwoodson.

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