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Virginia Tech upsets West Virginia

The SportsXchange

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech blocked 13 shots on Tuesday afternoon, as the Hokies upset the visiting West Virginia Mountaineers in Cassell Coliseum, 87-82.

"It's the first time we've played against guys that block shots," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "We don't have any, so they don't ever see it in practice."

The Hokies were helped out by a 25-2 run that spanned both halves and turned a 16-point deficit into a seven-point lead.

"The guys showed a lot of heart, showed a lot of fight," said Virginia Tech coach James Johnson. "We came out and found a way to win this one tonight."

Tech was led by freshman guard Ben Emelogu, who finished with 22 points and six rebounds. The team's four newcomers -- including transfer guard Adam Smith -- scored 64 of their 87 points.

"It means a lot that (Johnson) had confidence in (the freshmen)," Emelogu said. "Everybody's going to have their chance to make their impact on the game. We went out there and played hard."

West Virginia was paced by junior forward Remi Dibo, who had 17 points on the day, including a 5-of-9 shooting performance from behind the arc. Guard Eron Harris had 16 points and six rebounds, and guard Juwan Staten finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

The Mountaineers jumped out to a 29-12 lead midway through the first half, thanks to a 13-2 run sparked by guard Gary Browne's eight points.

West Virginia also took advantage of several Hokies turnovers, as well some porous shooting from Tech, which finished the first half just 12 of 34 from the field.

The Hokies would claw their way back into it. Trailing 40-24 with 2:54 remaining, the Hokies would go on a 12-1 run of their own to make it 41-36 at the break, capped by guard Ben Emelogu's buzzer-beating 3-pointer in transition.

"We screwed the game up in the first half," Huggins said. "I got a whole bunch of freshmen that don't understand how hard you have to play all the time. We got up 16 and we stopped guarding. And when you stop guarding people, people take advantage of you."

Tech opened the second half in similar fashion. The Hokies would grab the lead and then some, thanks to a 13-1 run. As a team, they shot 60.9 percent in the second half.

"You can't let people shoot 60 percent," Huggins said. "Even in spite of that, if we make 50 percent of our layups, we win the game. We missed (eight) free throws in the second half. We should be an 80 percent free-throw shooting team."

The Mountaineers also committed 28 personal fouls. The Hokies responded with a 30-for-38 effort from the free-throw line.

"I've told them and told them and told them that you can't take plays off and we continually take plays off," Huggins said. "We continually come out of our stance, we continually don't get back and fortify the three-point line. And on top of that, we missed about 106 layups, I think."

Tech would eventually lead by as many as 10 before the Mountaineers retook the lead with 2:31 left on a 3-pointer from forward Nathan Adrian that made it 77-76.

But a turnaround jumper from forward Jarell Eddie on the ensuing possession gave Tech the lead back. The Hokies led 80-77 before Staten would close the gap to one with layup with 43 seconds remaining.

Tech inbounded the ball to Smith, who went the length of the floor in a matter of seconds before hitting a runner in the lane while being fouled.

"They were pressing. I was always taught when a team presses -- attack," Smith said. "Even though we had the lead, you've still got to attack. We were in the double bonus, so something good had to come out of it."

The Hokies rebounded after dropping their opener on Saturday to South Carolina Upstate.

"I thought tonight they were tremendous," Johnson said. "They did things I recruited them to do, they did things I've seen them do in practice. They took it over to game time against a hostile team, a tough, physical team. They did a great job, all of them."

NOTES: G Ben Emelogu was the first Tech freshman to lead the team in scoring since Robert Brown against Duke on March 9, 2011. ... The Hokies were coming off a 64-63 home loss at the hands of the University of South Carolina Upstate. ... This was the 77th meeting in the series. West Virginia leads 47-30. The Mountaineers won last year 68-67. ... Tech was predicted to finish 15th in the ACC by the media, ultimately being the first team to be picked to do so. ...The Mountaineers host Duquesne at home on Sunday. The Hokies will face off against Western Carolina in Cassell Coliseum on Friday.
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