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March 14, 2013

VT's Season Ends 80-63

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Sure, there's plenty of reasons why Virginia Tech senior guard Erick Green was named the ACC player of the year earlier this week.

In the first round of the ACC Tournament, Green showed the deft shooting tough, speed and ball-handling he's been known for all season. He also showed what could happen in one of the few times he's not on his game, to the dismay of the Hokies.

Uncharacteristic for Green, he scored just 15 points, as NC State pulled away in the second half to defeat Virginia Tech 80-63.

With 1:05 to play, Green was substituted out of the game, leaving the floor for the final time as a Hokie.

"It was very emotional, just knowing that this is coming to an end," he said. "I'm gonna miss everything. I'm gonna miss Coach Johnson, I'm gonna miss this team and I'm gonna miss Hokie Nation. It means a lot. Walking off the court kinda brought tears to my eyes, that it came to an end. They always told me four years would fly by and I didn't believe it. It really did fly by and it just hurt, walking off with a loss because I'm a winner and I've always been a winner."

NC State got off to a strong start, with the game's first six points before the Hokies battled back. Junior forward Jarell Eddie had 10 points in the first half, hitting four of five shots. He finished with 21 points.

"Jarell, he made shots today," coach James Johnson said. "This is a game that he didn't play a whole lot of minutes the last time we played them. All year long, he's been kinda up and down, but he came out today ready to play, made some shots and kinda carried us a little bit in the first half and on into the second half. That was definitely encouraging for Jarell Eddie and for the team."

Early on, Virginia Tech also passed the ball well. One of the best examples came when junior forward Cadarian RainesC.J. Barksdale for an easy layup.

The Hokies shot 50 percent from the floor, but had their struggles. With 7:26 to go until halftime, Virginia Tech couldn't break a full court press from the Wolfpack and called timeout just before a ten-second violation.

Though Green had one of his worst shooting halves of the season, with just nine points, he still showed his value of creating and handling the ball when he left the game. NC State got a pair of steals that led to slam dunks and led to a Hokies timeout with 3:20 left. Green getting tied up in front of the Wolfpack bench with 24 seconds left led to another Virginia Tech timeout.

"They had good defense and the first half kinda caught me off guard," Green said. "I saw a lot of double teams and just staying with me off the pick-and-rolls. You've gotta give all the credit to NC State. They had a great defensive plan and we just didn't put a good 40 minutes together."

In taking a 38-32 halftime lead, NC State outrebounded the Hokies 17-11 and had five steals. Senior forward Richard Howell also had 14 first half points.

The Wolfpack jumped out to their largest lead of the game, at 43-34 with 17:40 to play on a pair of free throws by junior forward C.J. Leslie. Virginia Tech scored the next four points to keep it close though, on a dunk by Raines and drive by Eddie.

NC State pushed the lead to 57-42 on a 14-4 run which led to a timeout by the Hokies with 12:32 to go. The lead went to 59-42 before a three-pointer by Eddie and layup by Green knifed into the deficit.

Virginia Tech got to within 59-49, but the Wolfpack responded with an 8-0 run to get back to a commanding lead with 7:05 to go. But the Hokies would get no closer.

"I thought our pressure defensively initiated our opportunities in the break," NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. "When we got our pressure up and we were deflecting passes and we were disrupting them, it enabled us to run our fast break more, which I thought was the key."

It's a letdown for the conference player of the year, who for one of the few times this season, did not carry his team. And though he accomplished his individual goals with post-season awards, he fell short of accomplishing more with his team.

"My expectation was to come in here and make a run at it," Green said. "I didn't come in here thinking we were gonna lose the first game and go home. No, I'm a winner.

"My expectation every game is to win. I don't look at it as... I don't care who we play, I don't expect to lose to anyone."


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