Oklahoma St.-Virginia Tech Preview


Virginia Tech star Erick Green is a much better player than he was last season when he helped key two victories over Oklahoma State.

Green and the Hokies look to improve to 4-0 against the 15th-ranked Cowboys when these unbeaten teams meet Saturday in Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech is 6-0 for the first time since winning its first seven games in 1982-83. Oklahoma State has opened 5-0 for the first time since beginning with six victories three years ago.

These teams had never met until the Hokies won 56-51 in the 76 Classic two seasons ago. Green missed that contest with a pulled calf muscle.

The star guard, however, averaged 17.0 points against Oklahoma State last season as Virginia Tech built halftime leads in both contests and held off the Cowboys.

Green averaged 15.6 points in 2011-12, but is up to 24.3 now to rank among the nation's leaders. He scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the first half of a 95-79 home victory over Iowa on Tuesday.

"We've got to keep getting better and better," Green told Virginia Tech's official website. "Oklahoma State on Saturday is going to be a challenge, and we've just got to come to play."

This season's Cowboys figure to provide a much tougher test than the team that went 15-18 in 2011-12. Some of that improvement can be traced to freshmen guards Marcus Smart and Phil Forte.

Smart and Forte were high school teammates in Texas last season, and both have shined in their first college seasons. Smart averaged 17.0 points in three games to help the Cowboys win the Puerto Rico Tipoff in November while Forte has averaged 16.0 points off the bench in his last two contests.

"We're playing with each other, getting each other in good situations to score the ball,'' guard Markel Brown said. "Adding Marcus to the point guard spot really helped. He's moving the ball well, putting up crazy numbers in assists."

Sophomore swingman Le'Bryan Nash leads the team with 19.2 points per game. Brown and Nash combined for 43 points as the Cowboys shot a season-high 57.1 percent in an 81-58 home rout of Portland State on Sunday.

Oklahoma State went with a seven-man rotation against the Vikings with Michael Cobbins and Marek Soucek still recovering from injuries. It's unclear when they will return.

"We've got to get some guys back," coach Travis Ford said. "We've played well until this point but we need to get a few guys back."

The Hokies are among the highest-scoring teams in the nation, averaging 87.0 points. Forward Jarell Eddie has upped his scoring average to 17.5 while making 17 of 31 3-pointers.

Green is aiming for four more home victories before the Hokies meet Bradley in Las Vegas on Dec. 22.

"It means a lot," Green said. "All this hard work is paying off. But 6-0 is not good enough. I want to keep going. I want to be undefeated before we go to Vegas."