BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech’s Erick Green scored a game-high 28 points, but a slow start hurt the Hokies, and they ended up dropping a 64-54 decision to Georgia Tech in an ACC game played Saturday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.
The Hokies fell to 11-12 overall, 2-8 in the ACC, and lost their sixth straight game. Georgia Tech moved to 13-9 overall, 3-7 in the league and snapped a four-game losing streak to the Hokies. They also avenged a 70-65 overtime loss to the Hokies on Jan. 12.
Behind Kammeon Holsey, who scored all 13 of his points in the first half, the Yellow Jackets opened a 22-point lead against the cold-shooting Hokies, who missed 12 of their first 13 shots and 20 of their first 23. The Yellow Jackets led 37-15 after a free throw by Daniel Miller with 1:24 left and led 37-18 at halftime.
Virginia Tech’s 18 first-half points marked its fewest in any half this season. The Hokies, coming off a tough, late Thursday night loss to Maryland, hit just six shots in the first half and shot 20.7 percent (6 of 29) from the floor.
“It (playing at 9 p.m. on Thursday) impacted us a little bit,” Tech head coach James Johnson said. “It affected us. That’s not an excuse. Everyone in the league has to go through it. It is what it is, but it did affect us with our short bench.”
The Hokies used a 15-1 run in the second half to climb back into it. Green, who came into the game leading the nation in scoring at 25.2 points per game, scored nine of those 15 points, and his basket with 10:24 remaining cut the lead to 48-37.
Green, who scored 16 of his 28 points in the second half, got the Hokies even closer. Virginia Tech cut the lead to 60-52 on Green’s runner with 31.6 seconds left, but the Yellow Jackets held on down the stretch.
Georgia Tech came into the game as the ACC’s worst free-throw shooting team (64.3 percent), but senior guard Mfon Udofia made four straight in the final 31 seconds to seal the game for the Yellow Jackets.
Green, who led the nation in scoring at 25.2 points per game coming in, hit 9 of 20 from the floor and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. He came out of the game with 31 seconds remaining because of dehydration and had to be helped to the locker room after the game. But Virginia Tech’s sports medicine staff said he was fine.
"He was really worn down. He wasn't wearing down. He was worn down," Johnson said. "He was out of gas. I'd say he was out of gas and out of fumes. He had nothing in the tank. He's in unbelievable shape, but three or four games ago, I saw the wear down in him and I didn't know if it would get to this point, but he's having to do so much for this team … It's kind of caught up with him."
The rest of the Hokies combined to shoot 10 of 42. Virginia Tech shot a season-low 30.6 percent (19 of 62).
“We’ve got to do a better job of finishing games, and we’ve got to get more guys stepping up and playing,” Johnson said. “We had some guys who fought, but I didn’t think we had anything in our legs. We just got to have some other guys playing better and keep on fighting.”
The Hokies continue ACC play next Tuesday night when they travel to Charlottesville to take on in-state rival Virginia. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
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