ACC Basketball: Virginia Tech 66, Wake Forest 65
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech guard Robert Brown had made only one shot for much of the game, but his shooting struggles didn’t discourage him from the taking the last shot.
Brown, who missed nine of his previous 10 shots, made a short jumper with 12.3 seconds left to lift Virginia Tech to a 66-65 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday. He had the ball with the shot clocking winding down before driving into the lane for the score before getting fouled by Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas. Brown missed the free throw.
“Coach always tells me to be aggressive regardless of whether I’m hitting or not,” Brown said of Virginia Tech coach James Johnson’s constant message to him. “It was an open shot that he let me take, and I took the first good shot we had. They trapped Erick (Green), so the lane was open. I just made a play.”
Johnson confirmed his trust in Brown.
“He’s my guy,” the coach said. “I’ve got to go with him. There are times when I’m going to take him out and let him relax a little bit. I’m going to talk to him and tell him to let the game come to him. But he’s my guy. I’ve got full confidence in him. No doubt about it.”
The Hokies (11-6, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) survived a harrowing final 10 seconds. Wake Forest called a timeout with 8.8 seconds left to set up a final play, but C.J. Harris missed a contested jumper in the lane and Tyler Cavanaugh missed the put back. Virginia Tech’s Jarell Eddie grabbed the rebound as time expired.
“We got the opportunity we wanted at the end,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We wanted to get the ball into C.J.’s hands. We put Tyler and Chase (Fischer) in there to really space the floor. He got it to the rim. Then we had an offensive put-back opportunity. We had two shots at the rim. That’s what we wanted.
“You’re either a good coach or a bad coaching depending on whether the ball goes in.”
The Hokies managed to win despite not getting a point from Erick Green, the nation’s leading scorer at 24.8 points per game coming in, in the final 3:42. Eddie’s 3-pointer with 1:39 left tied the game at 62, and after a Wake Forest turnover, Virginia Tech’s Marquis Rankin hit a layup with 45 seconds left to give the Hokies a 64-62 lead. The basket was Rankin’s only one of the game.
Wake Forest (9-8, 2-3) answered on a 3-pointer by Travis McKie with 30 seconds remaining. Virginia Tech then called a timeout with 24 seconds left, one that eventually led to Brown’s basket.
Brown came into the game mired in a shooting slump, having made just seven of his past 36 attempts before that shot.
“It felt good to step and make a play for my teammates,” Brown said. “Getting this win was a big win for us in the ACC and for our confidence. We’ve got two in a row (ACC wins), and we’re going to try to keep building on that.”
Green led the Hokies with 22 points - 18 in the second half. It marked the 16th time this season he has scored at least 20 points in a game. Eddie added 18 for the Hokies, who shot 45 percent from the floor (27 of 60).
McKie paced the Demon Deacons with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Thomas added 12 points and eight rebounds. Harris finished with 10 points for Wake Forest.