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November 10, 2012

Virginia Tech Handles Business in Opener

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Virginia Tech used a big first half to propel them to an easy 80-62 victory over East Tennessee State in their season opener Saturday afternoon.

The Hokies pushed the lead all the way out to 25 with just over five minutes left in the second half before the Bucs pulled within the final margin.

The win was the first of head coach James Johnson's career. "It means a lot to me to get the win," Johnson said, "but it means more to me for the team to play and execute and do the things we've been working on since July 6th."

Senior point guard Erick Green led all scorers on the day with 21 points on 6-11 shooting. Junior forward Jarrell Eddie and sophomore guard Robert Brown paced the Hokies from behind the arc; Eddie hit 3-7 from three-point range while Brown connected on four of his seven attempts. Eddie also led the team in rebounds with 10.

"We've been working hard," Eddie said. "We've been working for this day. We wanted to give Coach Johnson a good first game and we were able to do that."

Tech's defense held the Buccaneers to just 38.7% shooting, including 3-16 from behind the arc. The Buccaneers didn't help themselves at the free throw line as they hit just 11 of 25 attempts from the stripe.

The Hokies played faster and showed much better ball movement in head coach James Johnson's's debut. According to Bill Roth, the voice of the Hokies, only two of Tech's 27 field goal attempts in the first half came with less than 10 seconds left on the clock.

"I was happy about the way we pushed the basketball against their zone," Johnson said. The Bucs switched defenses throughout the game, whether it was a man-to-man, a 2-3 zone, or other variations of the zone.

Johnson brought in redshirt freshman Joey Van Zegeren off the bench first just over three minutes into the game and the Netherlands native gave the Hokies a good presence down low. Van Zegeren finished with six points and two rebounds in nearly 20 minutes of action.

Walk-ons Will Johnston and Joey Racer each hit a three pointer in this game. It was also freshman forward Marshall Wood's college debut. He played 22 minutes and scored five points, but he shot just 1-6 from the field. Wood is definitely looking like a stretch power forward for the Hokies, as he has no hesitations about taking long jump shots.

Sophomore guard Marquis Rankin missed the game due to a death in his family. Johnson said afterward that Rankin would be given all the time he needs and welcomed back whenever he is ready.

"Some things we need to work on are rebounding the ball and defending," Eddie said. "We'll be able to look at the film and work on that tomorrow."

ETSU guard Lester Wilson led the Bucs in scoring with 20 points on 8-15 shooting in 27 minutes off the bench.

Next, Virginia Tech plays Rhode Island on Monday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in Blacksburg.

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