Eddie shines in Hokies' third consecutive win

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- For the second time in five days, Virginia Tech turned away a Big South Conference opponent that rolled into Cassell Coliseum on a winning streak.

The Hokies, hobbled by injuries, held off a second-half push by Winthrop to win 81-63 Tuesday night.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak for the Eagles (5-2). Virginia Tech (6-3) picked up its third consecutive victory.

Virginia Tech came out on top despite playing without two of its top three scorers and with only two guards available. Guards Adam Smith (calf) and Ben Emelogu (concussion symptoms) were out.

Senior forward Jarell Eddie was more than willing to pick up the slack, though, scoring a career-high 34 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

"I was just taking and making good shots, and my teammates were really finding me," Eddie said. "After I made one, I was just really in the zone. ... It was just a good night."

Eddie, who scored at least 10 points in each game this season, finished 13-for-18 from the field and tied another career high with six 3-pointers.

Winthrop put a scare into the Hokies after halftime.

With 8:27 left, forward Joab Jerome's layup cut Virginia Tech's lead to 53-51.

The Hokies countered, finishing the game on a 28-12 run. They wound up shooting a season-high 60.4 percent from the floor, 70 percent in the second half.

Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey told his team before the game that stopping Eddie had to be the top priority.

"Well, it doesn't look like it, but he was the focal point of the scouting report," Kelsey said. "He scared the bajeebers out of me on tape. I think sometimes when a guy gets going like (that) ... you've just got to tip your cap."

Virginia Tech forward C.J. Barksdale added 13 points and six rebounds.

Guard Keon Johnson paced Winthrop with 15 points, but he didn't get much help from his supporting cast on the offensive end. Jerome finished with 13 points, the only other Eagle in double figures.

The Hokies looked as if they might put the game away early, jumping out to a 13-5 lead behind a hot start from Joey Van Zegeren. The center tallied nine points, four rebounds and two blocks in the first half.

Despite Tech's early run, Winthrop wasn't ready to roll over. After starting the game 2-for-9 from the floor, the Eagles rallied and ripped off a 14-4 run to take a 19-16 lead with 9:07 remaining.

The Hokies heated up, however, and took a 42-33 advantage into the locker room.

"I told our guys at halftime, 'We're down nine. ... Win the first two four-minute wars. It'll be tied at the 12-minute mark and we'll make them nervous,'" Kelsey said. "We had some breakdowns. We allowed them to get into lane, put fouls on us, spraying out for 3s. That little spurt was our demise."

Tech shot 53.6 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from 3-point range in the opening half.

Eddie lit up the Eagles for 20 first-half points, scoring 17 consecutive points between the 11:33 and 5:36 marks. Eddie was 6-for-9 from the floor before intermission, knocking down four 3-pointers in the process.

In the absence of guards Smith, Emelogu and Marquis Rankin, freshman point guard Devin Wilson and shooting guard Will Johnston -- a former walk-on -- were the only backcourt players available to coach James Johnson.

Eddie, who is 6-foot-8, was asked to spell Wilson at the point.

"It was fun," Eddie said. "It's a lot of pressure out there. Everybody looking at you with the ball in your hand. I don't think I had any bad turnovers other than my double-dribble."

NOTES: At 5-1 entering play Tuesday, Winthrop was off to its best start since beginning 8-1 record the 1980-81 season. The Eagles finished 19-2 that season. ... Tech's freshman captain, G Ben Emelogu, missed his third consecutive game with post-concussion symptoms. G Marquis Rankin was back on the sideline for Tech, but he still has not played a game in 2013 due to undisclosed personal reasons. ... Virginia Tech opens Atlantic Coast Conference play Sunday against Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. Winthrop is off until a Dec. 12 home game against Appalachian State