Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
So far this season James Johnson has been a savior of sorts for Virginia Tech basketball. The Hokies head man has been revered for his uptempo game which has gotten the team off to its best start in three decades. But two days after the undefeated streak ended at seven games, the Hokies came out flat against a much lesser opponent. An opponent that was seeking their first win of the season. Though the Hokies were eventually able to respond, the scoreline doesn't do justice to how bad of a game the Hokies (and both teams really) played in this one.
Despite coming into the game 0-5, the Devils really made a game of this one, going toe-to-toe with the Hokies for most of the first stanza and trailing at halftime by a mere six points. But after taking the lead briefly at 22-20 with 6:31 remaining in the first half, the Devils would surrender it on a 10-0 Virginia Tech run that blew the game open. In the second stanza, the Devils would never get closer than the halftime margin again, leading to a 21-point victory for the Hokies, their largest margin of the year.
But, just because the second half was better than the first doesn't mean that the Hokies looked good in getting the win. First off, they shot a paltry 38% from the floor and just 16% from long range. They also committed 15 turnovers to only 10 assists, and were beaten again and again on the defensive glass, allowing 18 offensive rebounds. In addition to that, Jarell Eddie, Cadarian Raines and to a lesser degree Robert Brown all struggled from the floor, and Raines fouled out in 12 minutes on the floor.
There were however positives from this game as well. For one, it was a win, no matter how ugly, and the Hokies played every single player on their bench (including walk ons), three of which received eight or more minutes. Johnson in fact inserted seldom-used walk on Christian Beyer early on, sending a message that he was not afraid to play the walk ons if the scholarship players didn't start to show up.
Erick Green continued his great play, scoring 23 points and adding 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, tying Bimbo Coles' program record for consecutive 20-point games to start a season at nine. Marquis Rankin was the only other player in double digits for the Hokies with 10 points, an assist, a rebound and a steal. Joey Van Zegeren finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in one of his best games in the Maroon and Orange. Eddie also had 8 points and 10 boards.
The Hokies will be back in action this Saturday, Dec. 15 in Cassell Coliseum to face the Georgia Southern Eagles at 2 p.m. on ESPN3 as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, before boarding a plane and flying to the vice capital of the world, Las Vegas, to face Bradley on Dec. 22. Both of the games in Cassell Coliseum will be on ESPN3, but the Bradley game is yet to have a scheduled TV provider. Should the Hokies beat Bradley and make it to the championship game of the tournament, that game will be on CBS SN.
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