GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling ACC squads close out their respective regular seasons on Sunday, as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons play host to the Virginia Tech Hokies.
James Johnson's first season in Blacksburg has to be disappointing. Despite having the nation's most explosive scorer on the roster, the Hokies have gone just 13-17 overall and currently reside in the ACC cellar at 4-13. After a nine-game losing streak that spanned the end of January through most of February, the Hokies have split their last four games. However, the team is coming off a humbling effort at Duke on Tuesday, falling to the third-ranked Blue Devils, 85-57.
Jeff Bzdelik is certainly feeling the heat in Winston-Salem these days, as his Demon Deacons have also struggled big time, with a mere 12-17 overall record, sitting just outside the league basement at 5-12. The team has shown flashes of strong play like the 85-60 rout of Miami-Florida a couple of weeks ago, but the Demon Deacons haven't won since, dropping three straight, including Wednesday's 81-66 setback at NC State.
Virginia Tech holds a 29-27 advantage in the series with Wake Forest thanks to wins in six of the last seven meetings, including a 66-65 nail biter in Blacksburg on Jan. 19.
The Hokies were simply no match for Duke this past week in Durham, as they shot just .386 from the floor compared to .517 for the Blue Devils, who knocked down 12 3-pointers in the lopsided decision. Erick Green got his points as usual, as the 6-foot-4 senior knocked down 10-of-19 shots to finish with 25 points. Jarell Eddie added 13 points for Tech, but no other player managed more than six points in the rout.
Green is a scoring machine and continues to lead the nation in that regard at 25.0 ppg. Green is shooting .481 from the field overall, and is much more than just a scorer, leading the team in assists (3.9 apg) and steals (39). Eddie is a distant second in the scoring column at 12.0 ppg. The scoring pool dries up fast after that for Virginia Tech, with Robert Brown ranking third on the team at just 8.7 ppg.
Scoring depth is a problem for Wake Forest as well. The Demon Deacons, who are averaging just 66.8 ppg this year, have a potent one-two punch in C.J. Harris and Travis McKie, but the team lacks the complementary scorers to make it competitive against the top teams in the league. Harris is Wake's perimeter threat, averaging 14.8 ppg and shooting .407 from behind the arc (50-of-123). McKie can score both inside and out and is averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. A couple of freshmen have shown potential in Devin Thomas (8.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Codi Miller-McIntyre (8.1 ppg, team-high 71 assists).
In the loss to NC State, Harris was stifled, finishing with just nine points on 3-of-8 shooting. Thomas led the way in defeat with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. McKie posted 12 points, while Madison Jones managed 10 points and six assists. Wake really had a problem with the Wolfpack on the boards (39-30 rebounding deficit), as NC State outscored Wake Forest in second-chance points, 22-5.
Tech has struggle everywhere this season, but particularly on the road. Although Green is going to get his points, it will once again be a lack of a supporting cast that lands the Hokies in the loss column.
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