Wake out to end 17-game ACC road losing streak
Wake Forest's road trips always seem to end the same way — in defeat.
While the Demon Deacons have been unbeatable at home this season, they've been simply terrible away from Winston-Salem.
They bring a 17-game losing streak in Atlantic Coast Conference road games into Wednesday night's visit to Virginia Tech. That has dropped them to 1-27 in league road games under fourth-year coach Jeff Bzdelik.
"You've just got to have faith in your principles and just play basketball," forward Travis McKie said Tuesday. "You've got to go out there for 40 minutes, five versus five, and not five versus the crowd. ... That's when it get complicated."
Tuesday marked the two-year anniversary of his only ACC road win, a 71-56 victory at Boston College in 2012.
They're a vastly different team at home — where they're 11-0 and have won 22 of 27 since last year.
"At home, we have extra energy and extra concentration and we feed off the great energy from our fans, and we're in every possession," Bzdelik said. "Whereas on the road, we seem to lose sight of how valuable each and every possession is. One play, a couple plays, can change the course of a basketball game. We just need to focus on every, every single possession."
His road record has fueled to his critics. His teams have won a total of five road games in four seasons — none this year — and three of those were played within 30 miles of the Winston-Salem campus in either Greensboro or High Point.
But perhaps the biggest part of the problem — both in current and past seasons — has been inexperience.
There have been a total of six seniors on Bzdelik's four Wake Forest teams.
Of the 10 scholarship players in the current rotation, McKie is the only one who was with the program two years ago, and the nucleus of this year's team consists of seven sophomores.
As freshmen last season, they took the first step of learning how to win at home by helping the Demon Deacons pull off two upsets of Top 25 teams at Joel Coliseum and go 11-5 there.
The next step is to get the job done on the road, where they were 0-9 in ACC play last year and dropped their first three this season.
"I believe last year it happened so much because we were freshmen and at home, we felt so much more comfortable with our friends, everybody being there," sophomore guard Codi Miller-McIntyre said. "When we were on the road, it was like, 'Oh, snap, we're down 10 or so. What do we do?'
"Even though we haven't won yet, it's coming," he added. "I know it's coming."
Wake Forest's three road losses in conference play have each come to teams currently in the top four of the league standings. They lost by 23 at Virginia, by 15 at No. 20 Pittsburgh and by eight last weekend at Clemson.
Of the seven teams below the Demon Deacons in the standings, they visit four of them: Miami, the Hokies and two instate rivals they've already beaten at home — North Carolina and N.C. State.
"Once we get that one road win ... I think the program will take off tremendously," Miller-McIntyre said. "At home, we're going to do what we have to do at home. No question about it. And once we get that confidence on the road like we do at home, it'll be a completely different Wake Forest basketball team."