Winston-Salem, NC - Virginia (11-4, 1-1 ACC) held Wake Forest (8-6, 1-1 ACC) without a field goal the final 10:22, but the Demon Deacons managed to withstand a furious rally made late by the Cavaliers to win 55-52.
Deacons Illustrated spoke with coaches and players following the game.
Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik
On the last five seconds: "I thought about fouling right away and just putting them on the line, but I decided against that. I really did, because now all of a sudden you foul and then there's four seconds to go and they miss a free throw and it hasn't been a real strength of ours blocking off on the free-throw line, so I just put C.J. [Harris] on [Joe] Harris and told him to faceguard him, just get on top of him, because Harris was taking the ball out of bounds it was like C.J. just get into him and don't let him catch it."
On his team's defense: "What the deal was we were defending pretty well and we picked them up full-court too. We wanted to see if we could speed them up a little bit. We have some quickness and some athleticism, so we didn't want them to just be comfortable and get us on our heels and get set in their offense and grind it out. We wanted to see if we could every opportunity we had we wanted to extend our pressure 94 feet."
A couple of times when your team had those 14-point leads what do you think your team did well? "Well, we got stops and we were making some shots and doing a better job offensively. When you make shots good things happen. It was a combination of getting stops and making some shots."
"We prepared for this to be a one-possession game and that's how I've been making sure our young players understand the importance of every possession."
Coach, did you feel your team getting a little tense when you got the double-digit lead and it started getting closer and closer till the end of the game? "No, no, not all. Games are going to be like this. They are, and we've been through it. We got a gutty group of guys."
Wake Forest forward Devin Thomas
Do you want to tell me about that block? "It was a pretty intense block. I had to protect him from the cover-back, because I did a poor job of showing on the ball-screen for Codi [Miller-McIntyre], so he was trailing. I needed to make sure I either fouled him and make him shoot two free throws or block the shot and I blocked the shot. That was I think a pretty good block."
Wake Forest forward Arnaud Adala Moto
I saw it in the Duke game and a couple of times tonight. It looks like your jump-shot is really starting to come along from 15-16 feet out. Is that something you've been working on? "Yeah, definitely. Coach [Rusty] LaRue has been putting an emphasis on my shooting form."
It just looks like you're trying to provide a lot of energy out there and battling. What are you trying to bring to the team? "Just play as hard as I can, just try to do all of the little things that are going to help the team, like hustle, play good defense, go grab a rebound or dive for the loose ball. All those things can make a team win the ball game."
Wake Forest forward Travis McKie
Travis, you all had a good win against Xavier, battled against Duke and were competitive in some parts of the game. I know this win against Virginia has to make you feel good. "A win is definitely good. They were 11-3 coming into here. They felt pretty good. They just beat [North] Carolina on their home floor. We just tried to defend [our] home court. You have to do that in the ACC."
"We're definitely going to enjoy this one. Our confidence is going to get bigger, especially for a lot of these young guys, but we got to put this one behind us and get ready for Saturday."
Talk about hanging on down the stretch and be able to hang on at the end. How much does that mean to you to see your young teammates fight through that? "Just, adversity. You got to fight through adversity. Basketball is a game of runs. We were up 14. They're definitely going to make a run. That happens in every game. You can be up 20. Even we were at Duke they were up and we made a run in the second half, but basketball is a game of runs, so it's going to happen. So you just got to keep your head and keep your composure and continue to run your stuff and have faith that your stuff is going to get you a shot."
Wake Forest guard C.J. Harris
On the second half lull: "It's something we have to get better at, closing games out. We closed this game out today. That's something we have to get better at."
On Wake's improvement since its 94-68 loss to Iona: "I think we're a complete 180. We're a team that fights the full 40 minutes, execute, play hard on defense and we've learned a lot this early in the season."
Virginia head coach Tony Bennett
On the final seconds of the game: "We had a used a lot of our plays to get us back to that point. [Joe Harris] is a kind of a trail and there was some action we were looking for, but we didn't have a timeout, so we tried to call it and set it up. Jontel [Evans] was supposed to push it and whether it was Mike [Tobey] or we had some action coming, that hopefully was going to get a good look at a three."
"I told our guys that they battled hard to get back to that spot. But don't feel too good about that. You got to look at the majority of that game and learn from that. Grow from it, we have to."
"We hit some tough shots, some plays down the stretch, some nice offensive rebounds to get us to close that gap. The meat of the game, there wasn't enough there."
"I thought Mike Tobey did some things offensively. Justin Anderson. really got on the offensive glass as did Akil [Mitchell]. You got to be sounder than that the majority of the game to be in there."
On the 10-game losing streak in the Joel Coliseum for Virginia: "Every team in every year is different. I think Wake Forest did a nice job. They spread us out. Statistically it wasn't much. They made some free throws and such. We broke ourselves down some and they made enough plays to extend the lead."
"When you go on the road, you have to bring an approach that is you're willing to execute … we just got out of sync."