Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hokies up to the challenge

Five reach double figures in a big win over Iowa, and Virginia Tech is off to its best start in 30 years.

Virginia Tech's Erick Green converts a layup after beating the Iowa defense down the court Tuesday night in Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg.

Photos by Daniel Lin | The Roanoke Times

Virginia Tech's Erick Green converts a layup after beating the Iowa defense down the court Tuesday night in Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg.

The Virginia Tech men's basketball team celebrates with fans after beating Iowa on Tuesday night.

The Virginia Tech men's basketball team celebrates with fans after beating Iowa on Tuesday night.

Virginia Tech center Cadarian Raines puts up a shot up in the lane over the outstretched arm of Iowa defender Melsahn Basabe (1) during Tuesday night's game.

Virginia Tech center Cadarian Raines puts up a shot up in the lane over the outstretched arm of Iowa defender Melsahn Basabe (1) during Tuesday night's game.

Virginia Tech Hokies basketball

Berman Courtside

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech aced its first test of the season.

Facing a foe from one of the other major conferences for the first time this season, the Tech men's basketball team beat Iowa 95-79 at Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday.

"We can play," Tech point guard Erick Green said. "We keep this going, we keep running, we can beat anybody."

The Hokies are off to a 6-0 start for the first time since the 1982-83 season, when they won their first seven games.

Tech improved to 3-5 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, with all three wins coming against Iowa.

Five players scored in double figures for the Hokies, who scored their most points against a major-conference foe since the 2010-11 season.

They have made a smooth transition to rookie coach James Johnson's up-tempo offense.

"I didn't think it would be smooth," Johnson said. "I was ready to be patient. This is something new to these guys."

Green had 24 points despite not scoring for almost the first 10 minutes. Robert Brown had a season-high 18 points, and Jarell Eddie had 11.

"That's what makes them difficult to defend. They've got three guys going off the dribble and you can't give them slack because they're going to pull up and shoot it," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

Despite making a season-low four 3-pointers, Tech topped 90 points for the third time this season.

"That's scary, to be honest with you, because that means we could put up more if we're hitting threes," Green said. "We're just playing â? James Johnson basketball, and that's getting out, running and scoring.

"Guys have been in the gym. I know me and Rob, Jarell, every morning before the games, we get in there at 9, 8 o'clock in the morning and shoot, and that just pays off."

Tech, which led the entire second half, shot 52.5 percent from the field.

"This is a very good running team off of your mistakes or off of your missed shots," said McCaffery, whose team was 4-of-22 from 3-point range. "We took way too many threes. It seemed like every time we missed a three, they scored."

Brown had made just five baskets the past two games combined, but he was 6-of-8 from the field Tuesday.

"They just needed me to step up and score a little more and thankfully I was able to do that," Brown said.

The Hokies also scored points inside. Power forward C.J. Barksdale had 11 points and backup center Joey van Zegeren scored 10.

Johnson had said Monday that Iowa (5-2) would be the biggest, most physical foe Tech would see thus far this season.

But the Hokies outrebounded the Hawkeyes 36-30, and held them to just eight offensive rebounds.

"We just came in with the main focus of keeping them off the offensive glass, â? just being more physical," Barksdale said.

Foul trouble hurt Iowa, with 7-foot-1 center Adam Woodbury playing just 19 minutes.

"It hurt us that Woodbury got in foul trouble early," McCaffery said. "And at times we went small because defensively they were going off the dribble. â? You're solving one problem and creating another."

The Hokies were 27-of-30 from the free-throw line, while Iowa was 13-of-18.

Tech led 20-17 with 10:34 left in the first half, even though Green and Eddie had yet to score.

Green opened the second half with a personal 9-0 run to extend the lead to 55-38 with 16:53 left, but Iowa answered with a 14-0 run and cut the lead to 55-52.

The Hokies went on a 12-4 run to build a 69-58 cushion with 9:02 left.

Green extended his string of consecutive free throws made to 37 before missing one midway through the second half. It was his first miss since the second game of the season.

Iowa forward Aaron White had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Roy Devyn Marble added 18 points.

IOWA (5-2)

McCabe 2-5 0-0 4, White 8-15 5-6 21, Woodbury 2-5 3-5 7, Marble 9-16 0-0 18, Gesell 2-7 1-2 5, Olaseni 0-0 0-0 0, Basabe 2-2 2-2 6, Oglesby 3-6 0-0 9, Clemmons 3-5 2-3 9, Ingram 0-1 0-0 0, May 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 31-64 13-18 79.

VIRGINIA TECH (6-0)

Raines 2-4 5-6 9, Eddie 4-11 2-2 11, Barksdale 5-7 1-1 11, Brown 6-8 5-5 18, Green 8-15 8-9 24, Van Zegeren 3-6 4-5 10, Rankin 2-3 0-0 5, Johnston 1-1 0-0 3, Wood 1-6 2-2 4. Totals 32-61 27-30 95.

Halftime-Virginia Tech 46-38. 3-Point Goals-Iowa 4-22 (Oglesby 3-6, Clemmons 1-3, May 0-1, McCabe 0-2, Gesell 0-3, White 0-3, Marble 0-4), Virginia Tech 4-15 (Johnston 1-1, Brown 1-2, Rankin 1-2, Eddie 1-4, Wood 0-2, Green 0-4). Fouled Out-Clemmons. Rebounds-Iowa 30 (White 10), Virginia Tech 36 (Barksdale, Eddie 7). Assists-Iowa 16 (Marble 7), Virginia Tech 12 (Green 5). Total Fouls-Iowa 23, Virginia Tech 20. A-5,647.

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