BLACKSBURG, Va. — Snow covered the ground on the Virginia Tech campus Tuesday night. Inside Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech beat No. 23 Wake Forest 87-83 in a raucous college basketball game that vaulted the Hokies into second place in the ACC.
But it didn't really matter where the game was played, at least not to Demon Deacons coach Dino Gaudio
"These two teams are two junkyard dog teams," Gaudio said. "If they'd called us and said the lights were out in Cassell Coliseum and they wanted us to play it on an outdoors court, over by the dorm over there, our bus would have been there. We've got tough kids, they've got tough players, and it probably would have been the same result."
In a game that featured 74 free throws and 51 fouls, Virginia Tech was able to overcome an 11-point second-half lead by the Deacons (18-6, 8-4 ACC).
"You can't send a team to the line  times and expect to win a road game," Gaudio said. "So the next for us is to be resilient and to be a tough-minded group."
The victory sets up what may possibly be a showdown for first place in the ACC on Sunday, when the Hokies (21-4, 8-3) play at first-place Duke (21-4, 9-2), which is at Miami tonight.
The Deacons, in the meantime, sink to fourth place. They seemed to be in control - leading 61-50 on two free throws by Al-Farouq Aminu with 12 minutes, 31 seconds remaining - when the Hokies made their move.
It started with a sparkling defensive play. Cadarian Raines blocked a certain layup (or dunk) by Wake Forest's David Weaver. On the ensuing fast break, Dorenzo Hudson dunked over Deacons guard Ish Smith.
"I just felt like we needed something to get us started," Hudson said.
The momentum was the Hokies' from there on. When Virginia Tech went ahead 75-74 on a drive by Malcolm Delaney with 3:41 left, Wake couldn't reclaim it.
Aminu led the Deacons with 25 points - but he had only four in the second half.
Delaney, the ACC's leading scorer, had 31 for the Hokies.
"I thought our kids were great," Gaudio said. "In the past, I might have said, 'Yeah, we lost our heads.' But not one time did I pull a kid over down the stretch and say, 'Let it go, calm down, don't worry about it.' "
firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-358-5889 The Associated Press contributed to this story.