BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech used a career-high 27 points from point guard Erick Green to outlast Appalachian State 87-76 in a nonconference game on Friday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.
With the win, the Hokies moved to 5-0 on the season. The Hokies are 5-0 for the first time since the 1984-85 season when
“It’s not a pat on the back for me, but a tribute to these kids,” Virginia Tech first-year coach James Johnson said. “They’ve bought in to what I’ve trying to do and what we’ve been working on. They’re worked extremely hard and been ready to play every game.
“If you look out across the country at the scores, there are teams from high levels getting beat by teams from lower levels. You’ve got to be ready to play every night. The other team prepares and practices and works hard. They’re trying to win. They’re not going to lay down for you because you’re in the ACC or you’re in a major conference. It’s one game at a time for us, and it [the 5-0 start] says a lot about this team. I’m fortunate to be able to coach them.”
The Hokies struggled somewhat against Appalachian State for the better part of 30 minutes. The Mountaineers, picked to finish fourth in the Southern Conference’s North Division, trailed just 60-58 after a 3-pointer by Nathan Healy with 10:41 remaining.
But Virginia Tech answered with a 13-2 run that put the game away. Green scored six points in the run, including a one-handed slam with 4:51 to go that capped the run and gave the Hokies a 73-60 lead. The Hokies built the lead to 79-64 on a three-point play by Cadarian Raines with 3:28 remaining, and the Mountaineers got no closer than 11.
“They caught us off guard,” Green said of the Mountaineers. “They got offensive rebounds and second-chance points. The first half, they just out-hustled us. They wanted it more than us. The second half, we finally got it together.”
Green, who became the first Tech player to score 20 points or more in the Hokies first five games to start a season since Bimbo Coles scored 20 or more in the first nine games of the 1989-90 season, made 8 of 16 from the floor and all 11 of his free-throw attempts. He has made 31 consecutive free throws. The Hokies made 30 of their 39 free-throw attempts. In contrast, the Mountaineers hit just 12 of 21 and turned the ball over 19 times.
Jarell Eddie added 23 points for the Hokies, making 7 of 9 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. Eddie has made 14 of his past 18 shots from the floor, including 9 of his past 10 3-point attempts. He’s shooting 57.7 percent from the floor this season, including 59.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Erick’s able to penetrate and cause guys to collapse on him, and I can really shoot the ball,” Eddie said. “I’m going to move to the open spot and he’s going to find me, and I’m going to knock it down. We’re able to co-exist really well because he’s able to penetrate and find me and I can do the same. It works well.”
Marshall Wood had a career-high 13 points and also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds for Virginia Tech, which shot 50 percent (26 of 52) from the floor.
Jay Canty led the Mountaineers with 21 points. Jamaal Trice added 19.
The Hokies continue nonconference play next Tuesday when they take on Iowa as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Tipoff is slated for 7:15 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum.
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