Virginia Tech turns up tempo to beat VMI

Chris Lang, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech guard Erick Green salivated when he watched film of VMI at home late at night in anticipation of Thursday night's game with the Keydets at Cassell Coliseum.
The Hokies' new up-tempo offense was going to get its biggest test against a program perennially near the top of the list of the nation's top scoring teams.
Green said he noticed on video that the Keydets didn't get back in transition very well, and the Hokies took full advantage in a 95-80 victory that moved Virginia Tech to 3-0 for the second consecutive season. Tech scored 21 fast-break points and blitzed the Keydets when they tried to press and trap.
"We've got guys that can run. We're a running team," said Green, who scored his 1,000th career point on a jumper with 19:08 left in the second half. "I think we've got guys that can really go off the dribble and shoot the ball. I think it's the perfect offense for our team."
Green, who has scored at least 20 in all three games this season, led the Hokies in scoring for the third game in a row, finishing with 23 points. All five of Tech's starters finished in double figures. Guard Jarrell Eddie added 17 points and eight rebounds and Robert Brown scored 11 points.
"We don't want to get into a situation where we rely on Erick Green every night," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "As we get into the season, teams are going to scout us more and they're going to try to take Erick Green away from us. We're going to need other guys to step up. So I was pleased to have four other guys in double figures with him. We're going to need that."
Center D.J. Covington, who missed big chunks of the 2011-12 season due to injury and suspension, led the Keydets with 23 points. Rodney Glasgow added 13 points and Stan Okoye, the Big South's preseason player of the year, finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
"Our guys have confidence and our guys want to throw it in there to him," VMI coach Duggar Baucom said of Covington. "What you didn't see tonight, because he was scoring so well, is that he's an unbelievable passer. Guys know if they throw it in there and he gets double teamed, he's going to throw them a good shot out. He's come a long way. His health is getting better. He's a little more mobile."
Outside of Covington, the Keydets lacked post presence, and the Hokies took advantage. After a sluggish start in his first two games, center C.J. Barksdale scored in double figures for the first time in his career, finishing with 11 points. Forward Cadarian Raines scored 14 points and added 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double.
"He bounced back," Johnson said of Barksdale. "I've been pretty tough on him and he responded. He's been in the gym shooting. He's been watching film. I knew at some point, he would come around. He's too good to be playing the way he's been playing."
The Hokies led 46-30 at halftime and pushed the margin to as many as 31 points in the second half before VMI made a late push to make the score more respectable.
The Keydets, who are winless in three games against Division I teams this season, led for most of the first five minutes. Rodney Glasgow got VMI to a fast start, hitting his first two 3-pointers to help the Keydets to a 6-2 edge.
Virginia Tech quickly solved VMI's attempts to apply full-court pressure and soon began to dictate the pace. Green hit his first field goal with 15:37 left in the half, a 3-pointer that tied the game at 12. Freshman Marshall Wood hit the first 3-pointer of his career with 15:00 left to give Tech the lead for good at 15-12.
The Hokies took their biggest lead of the first half when Wood hit his second 3-pointer with 4:35 left. The shot, which capped a 10-0 run, forced an agitated Baucom into calling a timeout.
NOTES: Hokies assistant coach Ramon Williams is a 1990 VMI graduate who teamed with twin brother Damon to form one of most prolific sibling tandems in NCAA history. Ramon ranks eighth on VMI's all-time scoring list with 1,630 points. Damon, who is a college official, ranks ninth with 1,622 points. ... Ramon Williams was responsible for scouting the Keydets. ... This was Virginia Tech's only game against a non-conference, in-state opponent this season. ... VMI led the nation in scoring for five consecutive seasons before falling to eighth nationally last season. ... The Keydets are playing this season without F Jordan Weethee, who blew out his knee in July and will redshirt. Weethee was expected to be a key contributor.

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