BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - The roar began when Wake Forest's David Weaver went in for a layup and Virginia Tech freshman Cadarian Raines swatted it away. It turned deafening when Dorenzo Hudson collected the loose ball, drove and dunked over Ishmael Smith and Ari Stewart.
In a span of 5 seconds, the Hokies went from trailing by nine points to the midst of a game-tying comeback, and eventually an 87-83 victory over No. 23 Wake Forest on Tuesday night.
``I just felt like we needed something to get us started,' Hudson said of the play that fueled a 15-4 run that drew the Hokies even at 65-all after they trailed most of the game.
Even Demon Deacons coach Dino Gaudio noticed.
``I think that was a momentum change,' he said after his team's four-game winning streak was snapped. ``But trust me, at no point in the game did I feel comfortable.'
There was 8:30 left, and that's when Malcolm Delaney took over, scoring 10 of his 31 points in the final 7 minutes to lift the surging Hokies (21-4, 8-3) to their fifth consecutive victory, and into second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a matchup for the top spot looming on Sunday against No. 6 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
``I was feeling good,' said Delaney, the ACC's scoring leader with a 21.2 average. ``I've been shooting good. The last couple games, I haven't been hitting shots, but I've been shooting good when I've been working out. I was confident today and when I got the first couple going down, then it was like, `I'm kind of feeling it.' I had to hit some shots.'
The Hokies remained unbeaten in 14 home games this season, and got the kind of victory they sorely need to help offset one of the nation's weakest nonconference schedules.
The way they did it, Delaney said, shows how much they have matured.
``We never get down, we never feel like we're out of the game,' he said. ``Last year, we broke down in these types of games. We started taking bad shots, we started doing dumb stuff on defense. It's totally different, and you can just see that because we're more mature.'
Wake Forest (18-6, 8-4), which moved into the Top 25 for the first time this week, led most of the game until the 15-4 run by the Hokies pulled them even and they kept going.
In a game that saw 51 personal fouls called, the Hokies shot 47 free throws to 27 for Wake Forest, outscoring them 32-18 from the line and 19-6 off the bench.
``You can't send a team to the line 40 times and expect to win on the road,' Gaudio said.
Al-Farouq Aminu led Wake Forest with 25 points, but scored only four on limited touches in the second half. L.D. Williams added 19 on 9-of-11 shooting and Smith had 18.
Hudson added 21 points and J.T. Thompson had 16 for Virginia Tech, including eight straight at one stretch after halftime with Jeff Allen on the bench with four fouls.
Delaney grabbed nine rebounds, and Hokies forward Terrell Bell had 14.
The Hokies took their first lead since very early in the game on Delaney's 3-pointer that made it 70-69 with 6:43 left. The teams traded the lead twice before Delaney put Tech up with a drive, then followed a miss by Wake Forest with a 3-pointer to make it 78-74. After another miss by the Demon Deacons, Thompson's two free throws gave the Hokies a six-point lead.
Smith scored seven points in final 44.5 seconds for Wake Forest, but the Hokies made 3 of 6 free throws - just enough to never let the Demon Deacons closer than three points.
Trailing 61-50, the Hokies used the big run to pull even. Hudson scored eight in the spree, including the highlight-reel dunk after Raines' block, and Delaney had a three-point play with 8:54 left that was the fifth foul for Demon Deacons 7-footer Chas McFarland.
Aminu scored 14 of his 21 first-half points during a 21-11 run for the Demon Deacons over a span of 7 1/2 minutes. The spurt gave Wake Forest a 32-23 lead, their largest of the half.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved