for this game

Virginia Tech stuns No. 1 Wake Forest

Jan 22, 2009 - 5:24 AM WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Thanks to a pesky Virginia Tech squad, there are no more undefeated teams in Division I.

Malcolm Delaney scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Virginia Tech brought an abrupt halt to Wake Forest's reign as the nation's top team with a 78-71 upset on Wednesday.

A.D. Vassallo and Jeff Allen both had 16 points for the Hokies (13-5, 3-1 ACC), who beat a top-ranked team for the third time in school history, and first since topping North Carolina on January 13, 2007.

Virginia Tech also improved to 1-2 against ranked teams this season.

"There's a very fine line between winning and losing," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said. "You can play really well in this league and lose every single time you play against a ranked opponent. That's just the way it is. It's a stop, a rebound, making a free throw, getting the ball inbounds. There are so many factors that go into it.

"I don't get caught up in that. I get more caught up into if we're making progress or getting better. We made enough plays at the end of the game to finish the game and that's the positive time."

With the Demon Deacons (16-1, 3-1) not scheduled to play again until next Wednesday when they host Duke, it is all but guaranteed that they will fall from the No. 1 spot when the next rankings come out Monday.

"I think it's a tough locker room in there," Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said. "I really do. I think they have big hearts. They fought and scrapped to come back each of those times. We got it cut to two and had the ball. We didn't convert, but there's no doubt in my mind that those kids will bounce back."

While it still is the top team in the country, Wake Forest's loss to Virginia Tech was not a huge surprise, as the Hokies have won five of the last six meetings.

"I think they're one of our biggest rivals," Demon Deacons guard Jeff Teague said. "They've got our number. We've only beaten them once in the last couple of games so we came out and knew it was going to be physical."

With Pittsburgh losing at Louisville in the Big East and Wake Forest coming out on top in a clash of unbeaten teams with Clemson on Saturday, the Demon Deacons became the last team in Division I without a loss, a fact that allowed them to leapfrog No. 2 Duke in the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll on Monday.

It was Wake Forest's first top billing since early in the 2004-05 campaign, but not a memorable one as it experienced an inconsistent performance.

"It was fun while it lasted but now it's just going back to the drawing board and practicing hard and playing hard like we've been doing," Demon Deacons forward James Johnson said. "All our hats are off to Virginia Tech but we're going to work hard and move on to the next game just as if we would have won."

Despite facing No. 1 on the road, Virginia Tech came out as the aggressor, taking a 13-8 lead less than nine minutes into the contest and extending it to 30-14 when freshman Victor Davila capped a 15-0 run with a steal and a layup with 4:18 remaining.

Although Wake Forest came back with a 10-4 run behind freshman Al-Farouq Aminu to close within 34-24 at the half, Virginia Tech weathered the storm, eventually pulling ahead by 15 points at 43-28 with 17:35 to play behind six straight points by Delaney.

The Demon Deacons did attempt to rally again, closing within 47-42 on a three-point play by Ishmael Smith with 13:32 remaining.

Yet, the Hokies would not fold, coming up with a number of key shots.

Allen, who finished 6-of-10 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds, had five points during a 14-5 run that extended Virginia Tech's lead to 67-54 with 6:29 to play.

Wake Forest tried again, getting within two points twice within a span of 1:36 in the closing minutes, but Virginia Tech had the answers despite some shaky free-throw shooting.

Delaney converted a pair of foul shots with 1:42 left for a 73-69 edge, and the Hokies held on despite going 5-of-12 from the stripe down the stretch.

Overall, the Hokies finished 59.5 percent (22-of-37) at the line.

Virginia Tech, however, did go 25-of-50 (50 percent) from the field, well above the 36.2 percent that Wake Forest had held opponents to prior to this game.

"Our staple all year was our defense," Gaudio said. "That really let us down tonight. We needed stops; we didn't get them. There was a little clip in the second half where we charted that they scored five or six times. We got stopped, then they scored four more times. That part is a little disheartening."

Besides shooting very well, the Hokies also did a good job limiting the Demon Deacons' chances in the open court, limiting them to just eight fast-break points.

"It was as good as we can play defensively against that level of team," Greenberg said. "We shrunk the court. We handled the ball in transition. We kept them out of transition. We finished plays and we made shots.

"Now our challenge is not to drink the Kool-Aid. Enjoy this, get on the bus and enjoy it. The second we get to Blacksburg, it's over with, because in this league it can be very fleeting."

Although Virginia Tech left the door open, Wake Forest could not come up with a basket when it needed it most, missing six of its final seven shots - including five 3-pointers.

Inexplicably, the Demon Deacons' top scorer, Teague, attempted only one of the those shots down the stretch after his third 3-pointer of the contest made it a 71-69 deficit with 1:52 left.

Johnson, Harvey Hale, Gary Clark and Smith each took a shot from the arc down the stretch before Teague missed Wake Forest's final shot of the game with 12 seconds to play.

The previously mentioned foursome went a combined 2-of-10 from long range, as compared to Teague, who had made three of his first four attempts until the final shot.

Despite disappearing in a critical spot, Teague ended up with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting. The sophomore also grabbed five rebounds and collected two steals.

Teague also committed five of the Demon Deacons' 16 turnovers, leading to 25 points for the Hokies.

James Johnson scored 18 points, L.D. Williams 12 and Aminu finished with 10 and seven boards for Wake Forest, which shot 43 percent (28-of-65).

Besides the loss, Aminu got a nasty cut out of the contest, bleeding profusely from his forehead less than four minutes in when he took an inadvertent elbow from Vassallo while fighting for a rebound.

The forward returned to the game with 10:24 left in the first half with a bandage on the area.