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Men’s college basketball: Virginia 74, Va. Tech 58

By Mark Giannotto,

BLACKSBURG, Va. — The nation’s leading scorer could not be stopped by the country’s second-best defense Thursday night.

Virginia Tech point guard Erick Green continued his amazing run through the regular season, weaving his way through traffic to hit near-impossible jumpers and even forcing Virginia guard Doug Browman to fall on his rear end with a lethal crossover at one point. One star, though, wasn’t enough to overcome an entire team.

Behind a trio of freshmen who didn’t play like it was their first game in Blacksburg, Virginia cruised past the Hokies, 74-58, Thursday night, the most lopsided result in this rivalry since 2007.

The Cavaliers were led by first-year players Evan Nolte, Justin Anderson and Mike Tobey, who combined for 39 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Nolte had a team-high 18 points and junior Joe Harris added 17 points on a night when Virginia hit 51 percent of its shots.

Green, meanwhile, put on a one-man show for the Hokies, erupting for a career-high 35 points and nine rebounds. It’s the most any player has scored against Virginia since Duke’s J.J. Redick had 40 points in 2006, but as has been the case often this year, Green got little help from his supporting cast.

“I thought for the most part we made him earn them, but I didn’t realize he had that many,” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said. “It was make Erick earn his looks and then the other guys, just nothing easy.”

The Hokies took an early 17-10 lead courtesy of a 9-2 run, but it would be short-lived. The Cavaliers responded with one of their best offensive sequences of the season and Virginia Tech never could recover.

Virginia proceeded to score 24 of the game’s next 26 points, hitting six three pointers and opening up a 34-21 advantage against a Hokies defense that has seen plenty of opponents catch fire from outside. The Cavaliers (13-5, 3-2 ACC) ended the game with a season-high 11 three-pointers, including eight in the first half, to become the 11th team to hit at least eight shots from beyond the arc against Virginia Tech this year.

The Hokies (11-7, 2-3) closed the gap before halftime with Green locked in, but no other Virginia Tech players had more than one field goal in the first half.

Forward Jarell Eddie and guard Robert Brown were a combined 2 of 14 from the field and had just three points in the game’s first 36 minutes. Brown has now missed 65 of his past 82 shots over the past nine games.

“They’re both capable scorers. They just didn’t do it tonight,” Virginia Tech Coach James Johnson said. “They’re a really good defensive team, but we’ve got to have other guys play well.”

By the end of the game, even as he continued to score at a jaw-dropping pace, Green (Paul VI Catholic) couldn’t help but cringe when teammates dropped passes or missed open shots. He called it a frustrating night because “I could care less about how many points I score,”

Green accounted for 11 field goals and the rest of the Hokies had just eight. But that, it seems, was just fine with the Cavaliers.

“He got hot, but I know when they come to Charlottesville, it’s gonna be a different story,” Virginia point guard Jontel Evans said.

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