BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech guard Adam Smith scored 28 points to carry the Hokies past New River Valley rival Radford 81-56 in a nonconference game played Friday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.
With the win, Tech moved to 5-3 overall on the season, while Radford, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped, fell to 4-2.
Smith’s 28 points were his career high as a Tech player, topping the 27-point outburst against Michigan State. He scored 32 in a game while at UNC Wilmington as a freshman before transferring to Virginia Tech before last season.
Smith made 9 of 18 from the floor against Radford, including two 3-pointers, and shot 8 of 10 from the free-throw line. He had five assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes.
“I felt good out there,” Smith said. “I felt everything I was putting up was going to go down. So that’s a good feeling for any shooter.
“I was really driving to the basket. I really got going. We got in the bonus early in both halves, and I was able to get to the line and make free throws.”
“He’s going to have those games,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. “He’s getting better and better, especially with the ball in his hands. It was something he had to learn.
“He was counted on just as a scorer [at UNC Wilmington]. Now he’s having to make decisions coming off ball screens – when to drive, when to kick, when to take his 3, when to use his middle game, all those things. I thought he took a step forward. He had big numbers, but I thought he took steps forward with his floor game.”
Smith scored 17 of his 28 points in the first half for the Hokies, who used an 18-0 first-half run to break open the game against Radford, whose campus is only 15 miles from Tech’s campus. Six different players scored in the run, and Jarell Eddie’s three-point play with 13:09 left in the half gave the Hokies a 23-5 lead.
The Hokies led by as many as 22 points in the half. Smith hit 7 of 12 from the floor and both of his free-throw attempts in the first 20 minutes. C.J. Barksdale added 10 points for the Hokies, who shot 58.1 percent from the floor (18 of 31) in the first half.
“It was huge,” Smith said of the run. “I feel like we took a lot of confidence away from them. We’re like a rival school [for Radford]. They felt like they had a chance to beat us, but I think we kind of snatched that away from them early. We got a lot of stops, and we ran and converted. It was 23-5 in no time, so that was kind of tough for them.”
Radford (4-2), which made just four shots in the first 12:30 of the game, hit just 33.3 percent in the first half (10 of 30), including 1 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Highlanders cut the lead to 62-48 on a 3-pointer by R.J. Price with 10:17 left in the game. But the Hokies scored six straight points, the last two coming on a basket by Barksdale with 7:57 remaining that pushed the Hokies’ lead to 20. Virginia Tech wasn’t threatened again.
Barksdale had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his second career double-double. Eddie added 13 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and the sixth of his career.
Radford got 15 points from Javonte Green. The Highlanders shot 34.5 percent (20 of 58) and made just 4 of 22 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“I thought our defense was tremendous,” Johnson said. “They’ve got a lot of guys who can score the ball. I thought we did a good job defensively, but we want to continue to get better there and continue to rebound. There’s a lot we’ve got to work on.”
Radford has not beaten an ACC team in the program’s history (0-24).
The Hokies played without freshman guard Ben Emelogu, who sat out a second straight game with concussion-like symptoms. Emelogu, whom Johnson said would be re-evaluated on Sunday, is averaging 14 points per game.
The Hokies continue nonconference action next Tuesday night when Winthrop comes to Blacksburg. Tipoff for the game is slated for 7 p.m.
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