BLACKSBURG — After a rough first half, Erick Green, the nation's leading scorer, helped Virginia Tech get back into Saturday's game against Wake Forest.
However, the players around Green made the difference in the final minute of a 66-65 Atlantic Coast Conference victory at Cassell Coliseum.
Robert Brown hit a floater in the lane with 12.5 seconds left to give the Hokies (11-6, 2-2 in the ACC) the winning basket, and Cadarian Raines slid over to slow a driving C.J. Harris and force a miss on the Demon Deacons' final opportunity.
Although Green scored a game-high 22 points, none of them came in the final two minutes, showing that stopping Green in late-game situations doesn't necessarily mean stopping the Hokies.
"It's big," Green said. "They're doubling me, and they don't think other guys can make plays. But these guys can make plays. They're stepping up huge.
"Robert Brown, Jarell Eddie, Cadarian Raines -- who played like a man tonight -- I really have full confidence in these guys. They carried the load today. They really did."
Travis McKie led the Demon Deacons (9-8, 2-3), who have lost their last eight ACC road games, with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Green had only four points in the first half on 1-for-8 shooting. But he came alive early in the second half, jump-starting a 7-0 run that helped Virginia Tech quickly erase a six-point halftime deficit.
"I thought we started the second half off poorly," coach Jeff Bzdelik of Wake Forest said. "We settled for outside perimeter shots and tried to go for the home run.
"We can't do that. We called a timeout, got the ball inside and scored."
Green went 7-for-10 from the field in the second half to lead Virginia Tech's rally.
Wake Forest led, 51-43, with 11:56 left, but the Hokies got hot behind Green to get back into the game.
Green's three-point play with 9:05 left cut the lead to two. Then Raines found Joey van Zegeren for a dunk that tied the score, 51-51, with 8:21 left.
The Hokies finally took the lead, 55-53, on Green's long jumper with 6:26 left.
The game went back and forth the rest of the way.
McKie gave the Deacons a 62-59 lead on a 3-pointer with 1:53 left. Jarell Eddie, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, answered with a 3-pointer at the other end to tie the score, 62-62, with 1:37 remaining.
Arnaud Adala Moto of Wake Forest was whistled for a charge on the Deacons' next possession, and the Hokies went up, 64-62, on Marquis Rankin's driving bucket with 45 seconds left.
McKie countered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 31 seconds left, giving the Deacons a 65-64 edge.
After the Hokies used their final timeout, Brown, who was 1-for-10 from the floor to that point, hit a floater in the lane that decided the issue.
"Erick got trapped on the ball screen and kicked it back," Brown said. "They were in scramble mode, trying to rotate. It kind of gave me a lane. I was able to get in there and hit a little floater."
Wake Forest used its final timeout with 8.8 seconds left to set up a final play.
Harris came off a flat screen and tried to drive for a dunk as time ran down, but Raines -- who tied a career high with 13 rebounds -- got a piece of it. Tyler Cavanaugh grabbed the rebound and went for the put-back, but van Zegeren deflected it and time expired.
"We got what we wanted from an opportunity standpoint at the end," Bzdelik said. "To the rim. To the rim. It just didn't go down."
NOTES: Virginia Tech forward Marshall Wood missed his seventh straight game because of a broken foot, but dressed for the first time in more than a month. He might be available for the Jan. 24 game against Virginia. … Wake Forest's last road victory came on Jan. 21, 2012, at Boston College. … Virginia Tech won back-to-back games for the first time since beating Iowa and Oklahoma State on Nov. 27 and Dec. 1. … Official James Luckie didn't return for the second half after sustaining a calf injury, leaving Bryan Kersey and Roger Ayers to finish the game as a two-man crew.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times