Men’s basketball beats Georgia Tech in photo-finish

The Demon Deacons claim their third-straight win with a one-point victory over the Yellow Jackets


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Cameron Hildreth shoots a lay-up in the win against Georgia Tech.

Avikar Khakh, Contributing Writer

Coming off two big conference wins, the Demon Deacons (17-9, 9-6) added to their win streak this past Saturday, Feb. 11, against a competitive Georgia Tech team (9-16, 2-13) with a 71-70 victory. 

Just five games remain in the Demon Deacons regular season schedule, so every game is a crucial opportunity for the team to boost their resume come NCAA tournament time. 

“Every game is a must-win for us,” said sophomore guard Cameron Hildreth after the game. “We can’t afford any slip-ups.” 

Head Coach Steve Forbes sent out his small ball lineup of Tyree Appleby, Cameron Hildreth, Daivien Williamson, Andrew Carr and Damari Monsanto — which he also used against Notre Dame — to begin the game against the Yellow Jackets. The initial start for Wake Forest looked promising, as the Demon Deacons began the game with a 13-2 scoring run over the first five and a half minutes. Defensively, the Demon Deacons looked sharp as well, making it difficult for Georgia Tech to make their shots during Wake Forest’s hot start to the game. The Yellow Jackets had shot just two for 11 with a little more than 12 minutes remaining in the first half. 

Down by 11 with seven minutes to go in the first half, Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner called a crucial timeout to slow down Wake Forest’s offense, and the pause paid dividends for Pastner’s squad. Georgia Tech came out of the timeout flying, going on a dominant 13-3 scoring run, holding the Demon Deacons to a 12.5% shooting percentage for more than three and a half minutes following the timeout. 

Going into the half, Georgia Tech held a 38-34 lead as it continued to surge offensively, causing problems for the Demon Deacons on both ends of the court. A crucial factor going into halftime was Georgia Tech’s ability to grab offensive rebounds and create second chances for themselves — the Yellow Jackets had hauled in an impressive seven offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

Coming out of the halftime break, both teams were playing at a relatively slow pace with little-to-no offense. Georgia Tech continued to secure rebounds, with senior forward Ja’von Franklin (14 PTS, 15 REBS) leading the way and directing the Yellow Jackets to their largest lead of the night when they went up 50-43 at the 13-minute mark of the second half. 

Ultimately, Wake Forest adjusted its game plan and began to attack the basket rather than just shooting from long-distance, as the latter had not favored them all night (6/22 3-PT). Hildreth, who finished with 19 points, was an essential part of Wake Forest coming back by fighting in the paint. 

During the game’s tight finish, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest traded baskets from guard Deivon Smith for the Yellow Jackets (15 PTS) and Appleby (16 PTS) for the Demon Deacons With mere seconds left on the game clock, Wake Forest was down one point when Appleby drew a foul, which he converted into two made free-throws to put his team up 71-70. Georgia Tech, with no timeouts left, attempted a late, full-court inbound pass, but Appleby was able to pick it off, allowing the Demon Deacons to escape with the win. Hildreth and Appleby combined for 35 of the team’s 71 points. 

The Demon Deacons’ third-straight win puts them at nine on the year within conference play, good for sixth in the ACC. 

After the game, Forbes summed the performance up with a single quote.

“We just didn’t have the juice,” Forbes said. “Halftime was motivational, but we found a way to win.” 

The Demon Deacons now look forward to having a week off, allowing them to prepare for a significant matchup against No. 15 University of Miami (21-5, 12-4) on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. in Coral Gables, Fla.