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Green leads Virginia Tech victory

The SportsXchange

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Erick Green is the only senior on Virginia Tech's roster, and he's become the Hokies' go-to player.

Tech's game with Rhode Island on Monday night at Cassell Coliseum was rarely close. The Hokies won 69-50 and led by double digits for much of the game. But when the score tightened, Green took over.

The Rams whittled the Hokies' early 14-point lead to 28-24 late in the first half. Tech called timeout and drew up a play for Green, who hit the first of back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Hokies back in control.

It was part of a 25-point night for Green, which tied a career high.

"We've got a lot of guys who can do things, but Erick Green is a senior, he's played a lot of basketball around here," Hokies coach James Johnson said. "Coming out of the timeout, we set something up for him. He came through and knocked the shot down. He's somebody I feel comfortable going to in that situation. He had the hot hand tonight."

The Hokies (2-0) won for the second time in three days at home under first-year coach Johnson. The Rams (0-2) are still searching for their first victory under new coach Dan Hurley.

Green previously scored 25 points in a game at Minnesota last season. Green had chances to set a new career mark, but he missed his final three foul shots.

"I feel free," Green said. "Coach Johnson is letting me play and get guys open. Coming off ball screens, I love to do that. I'm reading it well. I feel real good right now."

Cadarian Raines, whose previous career high in rebounds was 11, grabbed his 12th board early in the second half. He also scored 10 points for the first double-double of his career. Robert Brown added 12 points, four rebounds and four assists for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech led by 12 at the break and held a double-digit lead for the entirety of the second half.

Xavier Munford, a transfer from Iowa Western College, scored 24 points to lead the Rams. Mike Aaman led Rhode Island with seven rebounds.

"I think right now, shot selection is an issue for us," Hurley said. "Quite frankly as coaches, we have to do a better job of creating a style that's going to allow us to be more competitive. I'm not sure if we can win a game in the 60s at this point."

The Hokies, playing their second home game in three days, got off to a fast start, scoring the game's first 13 points. The game-opening run was capped by a Brown layup with 15 minutes left in the half.

The Rams, coming off a season-opening loss at home to Norfolk State, rallied, going on an 8-0 run of their own to get back into the game.

Ryan Brooks got URI on the scoreboard with a bucket at the 14:37 mark, and Munford capped the run with a jumper. The Hokies responded with another 8-0 run to push the lead back to 21-8, and Brown's 3-pointer with 8:07 left gave Tech a 24-10 lead, its biggest lead of the half.

"The story of the game, I felt, was their perimeter guys, specifically Erick Green," Hurley said. "Obviously, he's one of the best point guards in the ACC, probably one of the better ones in the country. He's just such a well-rounded guard, poised, shoots it. Just a flawless guard."

The game of runs continued for the rest of the half, with URI pulling within 28-24 on an 8-0 run and Tech regaining a double-digit lead before halftime with another 8-0 burst as the Hokies led 36-24 at the break.

NOTES: Rhode Island and Virginia Tech were briefly conference rivals in the mid- and late-1990s in the Atlantic 10 before the Hokies left for the Big East and eventually the ACC. ... Rhode Island will face five opponents from Virginia this season. The Rams lost to Norfolk State in their opener and will also play George Mason, Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth. ... URI forward Ifeanyi Onyekaba has been cleared by the NCAA to practice with the team after finishing his prep career at Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Va., a year early. URI is currently pursuing an eligibility waiver with the NCAA so Onyekaba can play this year. ... Hokies guard Marquis Rankin, who missed Tech's opener with East Tennessee State on Saturday while dealing with family issues, returned for Monday's game.

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