BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech got 26 points from star guard Erick Green and some stellar free-throw shooting down the stretch to knock off the Seminoles 80-70 in an ACC game played Sunday evening at Cassell Coliseum.
The win snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Hokies, who moved to 12-15, 3-11 in the ACC. Florida State, which had a two-game winning streak against Tech, fell to 14-13 overall, 6-8 in league play.
“It’s a relief,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “It tells a lot about this team and how they kept on grinding and grinding. (Sunday), it wasn’t easy. None of these wins are going to be easy. But the way we had to win it, playing without Marquis Rankin for the second half (sick) and with Robert Brown sitting for a while and then coming in and making some plays. Erick Green got off to a slow start. They took the lead, and we had to fight back and take the lead and then finish off the second half.
“It says a lot about our guys. On the stat sheet, a lot of guys did some good things, but this one was about heart. This team showed a lot of heart.”
Tech trailed most of the first half, but Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton drew a technical foul with 2:55 remaining in the half, and that seemed to turn the momentum. Green hit both free throws to tie the game, and the Hokies retained possession and took a 23-21 lead on a Christian Beyer layup. They did not trail again.
The Hokies opened the second half with a 14-3 run, taking a 42-29 lead on a 3-pointer by Brown with 15:36 remaining — their biggest lead of the game. The Seminoles cut the lead to 53-49 on a basket by Kiel Turpin with 7:06 remaining but got no closer.
The Hokies made just two field goals in the final 6:18, but they sealed things at the free-throw line, hitting 17 of their final 18 attempts after Florida State started fouling with less than 3 minutes remaining. Virginia Tech connected on 25 of 30 from the line for the game.
“We usually never do that,” Green said, laughing. “But everyone has been in the gym and everyone’s been working hard. It’s about time. We got a nice little win here, and we’ve got to get ready for Miami coming up (on Wednesday).”
Green, the nation's leading scorer at 25.2 points per game coming in, hit 8 of 17 from the floor and all nine of his free-throw attempts. He also dished out five assists. He has scored 20 or more points in 25 of the Hokies’ 27 games this season.
Tech won, though, because of the production it got from players other than Green. For the second straight game, forward C.J. Barksdale registered a career-high, this time scoring 17 points for the Hokies, hitting 4 of 6 from the floor and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed nine rebounds.
Also, Robert Brown, mired in a shooting slump, added 11 points, hitting 4 of 8 from the floor. The Hokies hit 50 percent for the game (25 of 50) – only the second time in ACC play this season that they’ve shot 50 percent.
“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Green said. “I’ve seen these guys in practice. I knew it was going to happen, but they just had to start hitting. They’ve been in some slumps, but everyone can overcome a slump. I think Rob is going to get going, and C.J. has some confidence. We’ve got some guys who can play well.
“This was a great team win and seeing those guys step up was the best part of it.”
The Seminoles were led by Okaro White, who scored 18, and freshman guard Devon Bookert added 14. Michael Snaer, the Seminoles’ leading scorer at 14.2 points per game, finished with just eight points on 2 of 9 shooting.
Florida State, which came into the game leading the ACC in free-throw shooting at 72.3 percent, hurt itself by making just 13 of 23 from the line.
The Hokies will try to continue their winning ways when they travel to Miami for a Wednesday night game. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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