The Hokie offense continued its lights out shooting as Tech defeated UNC Greensboro 96-87 in the first away game of the year. Here are my thoughts on the game below:
Summary: This was truly a game of runs, Virginia Tech got out to a 30-16 lead to begin the game. During that run, they relied heavily on Cadarian Raines and Will Johnston (yes, you read that right) for scoring. Will had all nine of his points during that run, finishing 3-3 from the field and behind the arc. This run was also started by extremely solid defense forcing all 5 of UNC Greensboro’s turnovers that occurred in the first half. We had great ball movement, great shot selection, great defense, everything was looking good. It was starting to look like we we’re about to blow them out of the water. Nope, we began to get lazy on defense (I don’t know if this was a factor of fatigue or not) and sloppy on the offensive side. We started taking poor shots and stop passing the ball, it was almost looking like the Greenberg era where we just ran down, isolated, and had green take a difficult/low-percentage shot. We turned the ball over three straight times and allowed UNCG to take the lead at 33-32. This was our first real test of the season. How would we respond to this run? I was curious. How we stopped it was Marshall Wood sinking a three from the top of the key. We ended up getting to the half up 45-41 after Jarell Eddie drained a three at the buzzer.
The second half came along and the Hokies got out to a fast start led by Robert Brown. He made three straight three pointers and Erick Green followed with one of his own. We ended up stretching our lead to 13 at 67-54 with 14 minutes to go. All was well and the Hokies looked like they had handled the tough run by UNCG. Nope. Virginia Tech began to play extremely lazy defense again and allowed UNCG to get back into the game. Next thing you know, the Hokies are down by four points with six minutes left in the ball game. Right here is when I thought we were in a lot of trouble. I didn’t know how our guys would respond to being down on the road. They surprised me, and ended up going on a 14-1 run which ultimately decided the game. Tech made 18 of its final 22 free throws to seal the game. The Hokies got their first road win of the year and have started the season 4-0 for the first time since the 2004-2005 season.
Quick thoughts: WE SCORE A LOT, YOU GUYS. 96 points!!!! As I’ve said many times, this team is a blast. To be completely honest we struggled inside the three point line today, it seemed like all of our shots were sitting on the rim for forever and then would just barely roll off. I counted at least 5 of these on the night. We didn’t play that good, all we could do tonight was shoot threes, and still scored NINETY-SIX POINTS. Wow. One last thing, Marshall Wood has an awesom Hi-top fade. Maybe it’s just me, but I think everyone on our team should be required to get one.
Point Guards: Erick Green scored a career high tonight, and shot terribly from the field. He did however channel his inner Malcolm Delaney and go to the line 15 times, knocking down all 15. He seems to get his points every night no matter how he has. This is great to rely on and he is now averaging close to 24 points per game. Look for that to end up at 18-20 by the end of the season. Marquis played sparingly today, ending up with eight minutes of action. He had a great layup during one of UNCG’s runs but really had no impact on the game. The whole time he was in the game, though, he was at shooting guard with Erick Green at the point. I found this pretty strange but maybe it had to deal with keep our best player on the field to control UNCG’s runs.
Shooting Guards: UNC Greensboro did a pretty good job of not allowing Robert Brown to shoot his 12ish shots a game. He ended up with seven shots on the night, five of which came from behind the arc. All of his points from the field came from the run to start the second half, where he drained three straight three pointers. He added a free throw later in the game to get in double digits. Robert is doing a great job so far getting his teammates involved, averaging four assists per game. Will Johnston had an excellent game tonight, and really got our team going offensively. He continued his success from behind the arc, going 3-3, and set the tone for how we would shoot from three. He played sparingly and I wish he would’ve gotten a chance to play more tonight, possibly sparking the offense even more. I do know he will be an asset for us this year.
Forwards: Jarell had an incredible night shooting. He was 7-9 from the field and was a perfect 5-5 behind the three point line. Not only also had success at the free throw line going 9-10 which helped finish the game off. He has really improved his game, and is no longer one dimensional. He was able to drive tonight and even had his back to the basket, scoring that way as well. He was unstoppable on offense and played extremely well defensively too. C.J. Barksdale and Marshall Wood split minutes tonight, and each had a so-so performance. One thing that makes me cringe is watching C.J. shoot a 17-19 foot jumpshot. I just think we could get a much higher percentage shot than that. Other than that his night was average. He played some pretty bad defense at points and didn’t look like he was giving 100% effort throughout. Marshall Wood had a key three to end UNCG’s run, but struggled with his shot on the night. I love how confident he is and how he doesn’t hesitate to shoot, but that often leads to poor shot selection, causing some of his shooting troubles. He had a career high in rebounds tonight with 11, showing he’s not scared to make contact and go up and get the ball. Remember he is a freshman, and I’m impressed.
Centers: Cadarian had an average night offensively, but was solid on the boards. My only issue with his is he often gets the ball and doesn’t really think about what he’s doing, and just pegs the ball at the rim, which ends up practically being a wasted possession. He needs to be smarter with his shot selection, and I think our offense would benefit tremendously from this. JVZ played sparingly, but had a key shot and stopped one of UNCG’s fast breaks. I don’t have too much to say about him.
Stat of the Game: I can’t decide on the stat. Tech finished 18-22 from the free throw line to close out the game, but really the most eye popping stat is Tech shooting 14-22 from three (63.6%). I can’t remember the last time we shot this well from beyond the arc. These tie in impressiveness but what got the job done were the free throws at the end of the game. They put the game out of reach, and won us the game.
Mike’s Player of the Game: Jarell Eddie gets the honor tonight after his incredible performcance. He scored a career high 28 points and was extremely efficient, shooting 78% from the field, and 90% at the free throw line. He also contributed to our three point success with shooting 100% from three. Just read the statline, it says it all: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks. Great all-around performance from Jarell.
We got the win, and that’s all that matters. We fought through the poor play and sank the free throws at the end. We did exactly what we needed to get our first road win of the year.
The Hokies next game is on Friday at 2 p.m. against Appalachian State. It will be broadcast on ESPN3 and will be our last warm up game before the meat of the nonconference schedule. If you're in town early for the game, make sure you come out and support your Hokies.
P.S. IT’S HATE WEEK YALL.