Virginia Tech can't afford any more slip-ups if it is to make the NCAA Tournament field.
So coach Seth Greenberg let out a sigh of relief after the Hokies beat Wake Forest 76-62 on Tuesday night.
The Hokies took care of business in convincing fashion, taking control late in the first half and leading by as many as 21 points in the second half.
It was a game, Greenberg said, that could have been a "trap" with the Hokies looking forward to Saturday night's home showdown against top-ranked Duke. The Hokies had beaten Wake Forest 94-65 in January.
"I'm really proud of our guys," Greenberg said. "I thought our approach was outstanding. Our approach has always been the next game, and I thought our kids really did handle that. I thought our kids shared the ball, and they kinda hung together."
Virginia Tech (18-8, 8-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) came into the game with an RPI of 67, so it is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
"Eight wins in the ACC is not easy," Greenberg said. "I don't care if the league's good, the league's bad -- it is not easy. That's an accomplishment with three games remaining. I'm really proud of the way this team has evolved, and now we have a chance to play the best team in America and (ESPN) College Game Day can actually be there now. If we had lost this game, I'm sure it wouldn't be the event that it's going to be now."
The Hokies got 17 points each from Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen and Jarell Eddie.
Delaney, a 6-foot-3 senior, triggered the initial surge with 12 first-half points as the Hokies pulled out to a 38-25 halftime lead.
Allen, a 6-7 senior, hit 7 of 10 from the field and had eight rebounds despite playing with a stomach virus.
And Eddie, a 6-7 freshman who was returning from a one-game suspension, came off the bench to go 6 for 6 from the field with three 3-pointers. He also led the team with nine rebounds, on a night when the Hokies held a 35-23 rebounding advantage.
The Hokies, who shot 60 percent from the field (27 of 45) and were 8 of 12 from 3-point range, also got 12 points from Erick Green.
Travis McKie led Wake Forest (8-20, 1-12 ) with 22 points and nine rebounds. Gary Clark scored 13. The Deacons shot 42.4 percent from the field (25 of 59) and were just 3 of 18 from 3-point range.
Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik was unhappy with his team's defense, particularly at the start of the second half.
"You can't allow a team to score on nine of its first 10 possessions, or whatever it was," Bzdelik said. "We need to be able to defend. Simply put, you need to get stops. You can't allow teams to score at will like they did.
"Most young teams don't defend very well, because it's all new to them. But we're not a young team anymore. We've played 28 games."
Virginia Tech was 8 of 12 (66.7 percent) from 3-point range.
"We got the ball in rhythm," Greenberg said. "We shared the basketball. We made good passes. Our interior passing was good. And we played with pretty good spacing today."
Virginia Tech was coming off a 61-54 loss at Virginia on Saturday. Before that, it had won four of its previous five.
Wake Forest (8-20, 1-12 ACC) has lost seven straight and 16 of its last 18. Its lone win in ACC play came over Virginia 76-71 on Jan. 29.