Bibbs scores 22 as Hokies beat Deacons 81-74
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams doesn't talk to his players very much about the past.
But after four years finishing in the Atlantic Coast Conference's cellar, the Hokies can finally call themselves a winning team after beating Wake Forest 81-74 on Sunday.
Justin Bibbs scored 22 points to lead four players in double figures, and the Hokies (16-13, 8-8) pulled away in the second half to clinch a first-round bye in this year's ACC tournament.
The win also assures Virginia Tech of its first winning record heading into the postseason since the 2010-11 season, when the Hokies finished 22-12 after advancing to the ACC semifinals and getting an NIT berth.
''Our guys, as the month has played itself out, I think we're playing better,'' Williams said. ''They're playing for one another more, and they better identify the recipe from which we have to play.
''They're also more accepting of the negative margin we start with. All of those things are good signs relative to our maturity.''
Zach LeDay added 17 points, and Justin Robinson and Seth Allen had 14 each for Virginia Tech, which broke a 44-44 tie with less than 15 minutes remaining to win their third straight.
After trailing 37-36 at the half, Wake Forest tied the score for the sixth time in Sunday's game on Codi Miller-McIntyre's layup with 14:43 remaining.
But the Hokies responded with a 9-0 run, capped by two free throws from LeDay with 13:13 left, to put Virginia Tech in the lead to stay.
''I wouldn't say I'm surprised about where we are (in the ACC standings),'' Bibbs said. ''We had the pieces last year, but our depth is more this year than we had last year.
''The last couple games, we've been clicking well together. We played really tough tonight, both on offense and defense. We've just got to learn, and keep going from this.''
The Deacons managed to cut the Hokies' lead to 67-64 with 2:57 remaining, but Robinson hit a 3-pointer and Bibbs followed with two free throws to stretch Virginia Tech's lead back to eight points. Wake Forest would pull no closer than four points the rest of the way.
''It's a very disappointing loss for us,'' Deacons coach Danny Manning said. ''In the first half, we did some things that were pretty good. But through the course of the game, untimely turnovers came back to haunt us. Late in the game, there were times when we needed to get stops, and we couldn't get them.''
Miller-McIntyre finished with 19 points, Bryant Crawford had 16, Devin Thomas 13 and Mitchell Wilbekin 11 for Wake Forest (11-18, 2-15).
Virginia Tech: The Hokies won their third ACC road game, the first time they have had that many since the 2010-11 season. . Virginia Tech also posted its longest conference winning streak since the 2009-10 season, when the Hokies won five straight.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons finished with a 6-9 record at Joel Memorial Coliseum, the Deacons' first losing season at home since 2011. . They started four seniors - Miller-McIntyre, Thomas and walk-ons Gary O'Brien and Stephen Predergast - in their final home game. Wake Forest's fifth senior, center Andre Washington, red-shirted this season and has a year of eligibility remaining.
HOT AT THE LINE
Virginia Tech shot 48 percent for the game (25 of 52) and made 7 of 19 3-pointers, but the Hokies were more impressive from the free-throw line - going 24 of 33, including 23 of 30 in the second half.
That's the most free throws Virginia Tech has made in an ACC game since going 33 of 38 against then-No. 16 Louisville on Jan. 27.
Virginia Tech: Hosts Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
Wake Forest: Visits No. 15 Duke on Tuesday night.