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November 27, 2012Sign-up for HokieHaven.com Wireless Text Alerts sent right to your cell phone!
With 7:02 left in the first half, sophomore walk-on guard Will Johnston had more points (3) than senior guard Erick Green (2).
Not to knock Johnston, but Green was just getting warmed up.
Green poured in 24 points to lead five Virginia Tech players in double figures as Virginia Tech cruised past Iowa 95-79 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Against a taller team, it took Green a bit to get acclimated. But once he did there wasn't much stopping him.
"They're big," Green said. "They've got 6'7" 6'8" out there and we're not used to that yet at the wing spot. It kinda took us a little minute, but we regrouped and me and Jarell sat there and tried to figure it out. The first half kinda threw us off and we just got things going."
And after getting going against that taller team, the Hokies were the ones getting to the glass more often. Virginia Tech out-rebounded Iowa 36-30 and limited the Hawkeyes to just eight offensive rebounds.
"I don't think it was anything that helped us," coach James Johnson said. "That's something that we emphasize but we've been emphasizing that all year long. That's something that we needed to improve on and I talked about how this team has done a great job with getting better every single day. That's something that we've gotten better at and needed to be addressed."
The ease the Hokies had didn't start off the bat as they struggled containing Iowa in the paint early, with the Hawkeyes getting six of their first nine points from dunks. Both teams went back and forth for much of the first half, with six ties and six lead changes.
Iowa took a 37-36 lead with 3:16 left in the first half on a layup by junior guard Devyn Marble. But Virginia Tech responded with a 10-1 run to close the half, eight of those points coming from Green and sophomore guard Robert Brown.
Green started the second half on a 7-0 run by himself. First, he made a nifty reverse layup cutting right on a fast break, was fouled and made the free throw. Then, he softly put in a floater from the right elbow and followed that up with a pull-up jumper in transition from the right wing to give the Hokies a 53-38 lead and force a Hawkeyes timeout.
After the timeout, Green added two more free throws to make it a 9-0 run before a pair of Iowa free throws. But the Hawkeyes went on a 14-0 run of their own to claw back to within 55-52 before a layup by junior forward Jarell Eddie.
"We just got back out running," Green said. "We got back, kept our poise and we knew because we said in halftime they were gonna make their run. We just had to respond back and we did a great job getting out running, got some easy baskets and took the lead back and got up a little bit."
The Hokies pushed the lead back to eight at 62-54 on a layup by Brown in which he was fouled and made the free throw.
Virginia Tech upped its lead to 84-68 with 5:03 to play after a three-pointer from Brown, a pair of free throws by Eddie and a transition layup by sophomore forward C.J. Barksdale. The Hokies didn't let up after that, taking a 91-72 lead with 2:31 left as Barksdale drove the lane for a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw.
With just over a minute remaining and the game well in hand, fans began chanting "A-C-C!" to put a cap on the night.
"I didn't think (the transition under Johnson) would be smooth," Johnson said. "We worked on it a long time and playing that way is something that you really have to practice on. The guys have to be physically in condition. I thought that was one of the things that I saw out there tonight. We didn't fade, nobody showed any signs of fatigue out there and we continued to push the ball up the floor, but that's something we've been working on."
Virginia Tech (6-0) gets its toughest test of the young season Saturday when it hosts nationally ranked Oklahoma State in a matchup of unbeaten teams.