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VT survives stiff challenge from UNC Greensboro

The SportsXchange

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Monday's game might have been just the type of test that will pay off later for Virginia Tech.

Stuck with a second-half deficit for the first time this season, the Hokies found their way out of trouble and secured a 96-87 non-conference victory against UNC Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum.

"We grew up. We took a step forward," first-year Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "We haven't seen adversity like that in the first three games. We got better."

Virginia Tech scored 10 consecutive points late in the game after falling behind.

Junior forward Jarell Eddie scored a career-high 28 points, and senior guard Erick Green posted 19 of his career-best 26 points in the second half as the Hokies (4-0) survived their first road outing of the season.

"We needed that because there are going to be times like that when we're going to be down in that position and we need to fight back," Eddie said.

UNCG's Trevis Simpson scored 18 of his 25 points after halftime, but the Spartans (1-3) remained winless in against Division I opponents this season.

"If we keep taking the right steps, things will work out for us at the end," said UNCG coach Wes Miller, whose team lost by three points three nights earlier at East Carolina.

Thirteen of Virginia Tech's first 21 field goals were from long range, helping the Hokies take a 65-51 lead. Later, after Virginia Tech fell behind and regained the lead, another 3-pointer from Eddie created a two-possession margin.

Before the lead change, Simpson hit from 3-point range on consecutive possessions and UNCG was within 71-69 with 8:42 to play. Derrell Armstrong's two free throws on the Spartans' next trip tied the score, and UNCG went ahead a couple of possessions later on Simpson's drive. Simpson's next basket made it 77-73.

But the Hokies went on a game-turning burst, with Green providing six points during the 10-0 spurt that was capped by Eddie's 3-pointer.

Miller said Green's basket in the lane and Eddie's last 3-pointer were well contested defensively.

"There's a couple of shots they made you just have to tip your hat and clap your hands," Miller said.

Green, who went 16-for-16 on free throws, has scored at least 21 points in every game this season. Eddie, a junior swingman, exceeded his career high by four as he made all five of his 3-point attempts.

"Just getting open and my teammates finding me," Eddie said. "I was able to knock them down."

Virginia Tech guard Robert Brown scored all of his 10 points in the second half.

It was the first time in UNCG's four games that an opponent made more 3-pointers than the Spartans, who poured in 11 on 35 attempts. Virginia Tech ended up 14-for-22 from beyond the arc.

"I don't know if that's going to be the norm (with so many 3-point baskets), but we've got some guys who can make some shots," Johnson said.

Armstrong finished with 23 points.

"Being in a tie ballgame (with 4:18 to play) against a good ACC team, it shows us and everyone else we can complete at the highest level," Armstrong said. "We just have to finish games."

The Hokies broke to a 21-9 lead, in part because of three 3-pointers from sophomore reserve Will Johnston. Virginia Tech led 30-16 after Green's steal and dunk, causing Miller to call his second timeout less than 11 minutes into the game.

"I thought our guys just didn't give in," Miller said.

The Spartans pulled ahead at 33-32 with 4:26 left in the opening half. The Hokies held a 45-41 halftime lead, with Eddie hitting a 3-pointer at the horn.

Both coaches, Virginia Tech's James Johnson and Miller, were assistants a year ago. Miller took over at UNCG on an interim basis last December.

The Spartans, who have never won against Virginia Tech in eight meetings, opened a stretch of four consecutive home games.

NOTES: The trip to Greensboro was Virginia Tech's only road game until December. The Hokies got a chance to play in the venue that will be used for March's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. ... UNCG is 1-46 against ACC teams. ... All nine of Johnson's career baskets have been 3-pointers. ... UNCG power forward David Williams fouled out with 5:19 to play. He scored five points.
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