Coming off of back-to-back losses to top 10 teams, Wake Forest’s Men’s Basketball (8-8, 1-5) lost at home 80-70 on Tuesday night to Virginia Tech (13-4, 4-2).
The center video board was black the entire game because of technical issues. However, it wasn’t the only thing the team was missing.
Junior Chaundee Brown was sidelined due to a lower leg injury for the third straight game. His averages of 13.3 PTS and 6.5 REB were surely missed, as well as his overall veteran presence on the floor.
“We’re missing a piece,” Head Coach Danny Manning said. “There’s no question about that …We have to find a way to absorb his production, because nobody is going to come in and do what he does.”
Both teams got off to a hot start offensively, only for the Deacs to go cold after seven minutes went by without them scoring a single point. Ten points in just over four minutes from junior Olivier Sarr helped the Deacs answer with an impressive stretch, building a 31-25 lead off of a 21-5 run. But the Hokies came back with a counterpunch of their own, using an 8-0 burst to take a 33-31 lead into halftime.
Things really started to go downhill defensively for the Deacs in the second half. Virginia Tech was very comfortable on offense, taking care of the ball and getting good looks consistently. They shot 15-25 from the field in the second half, and also made 13 free throws to total 47 points.
Speaking of taking care of the ball, turnovers continue to be a huge issue for the Deacs. 18 turnovers for the game marked a third straight game of 17-plus giveaways. Most of them were the result of sloppy, careless passes.
Sarr has a clear height advantage over the post players that Tech has, but wasn’t able to get as many touches as he probably should have due to his teammates’ inability to get him the ball. The Hokies were able to take advantage of the poor passing by the Deacs, as help side defenders came away with deflections and interceptions time after time.
Sarr put up a very good line of eighteen points and nine rebounds, but probably could’ve had even more.
“Man, I like his game,” Virginia Tech Head Coach Mike Young said about Sarr. “Gosh, he’s a good player.”
The Hokies redshirt freshman standout Landers Nolley II scored 21, making many tough shots and drawing a handful of fouls. Freshman guard Tyrece Radford matched Nolley’s scoring output, setting a new career high. He shot an efficient 7-9 from the field, and was able to convert on 7-12 free throws.
He also made the play of the night: with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second half, the 6’ 2” Radford drove along the baseline and threw down an emphatic slam over the 7’0” Sarr. The dunk sent shock waves throughout the entire Coliseum and gave the Hokies a 60-46 lead. Tech was able to build their lead up to as much as 20, and kept a cushion of at least 10 until the final buzzer sounded.
Freshman guard Jalen Cone also played well for the Hokies. Cone knocked down four threes en route to 15 points in his return home. Cone was an ESPN top 100-recruit from nearby Walkertown who went on his first college visit to Wake Forest, but was ultimately signed by Virginia Tech.
Graduate guard Andrien White shot the ball well for the Deacs, hitting four three-pointers and scoring 14, but was limited to 25 minutes of action because of foul trouble.
Childress reached his season average of 16, but hardly impacted the game. Eleven of his points came in the final four and a half minutes, when the game was all but over.
Watching Virginia Tech excel is definitely a tough pill to swallow for Demon Deacon fans, considering they didn’t return a single one of their top five scorers from last season. They also have a first-year coach, while Danny Manning continues to not give fans much to get excited about.
Even in a down year for the ACC, things don’t get any easier for the Deacs. Boston College is coming to Winston-Salem for a duel on Sunday to see if they can complete the season sweep on the Deacs. Wake Forest will then travel to Clemson on Tuesday to face a team that just beat #3 Duke.