Virginia Tech basketball beats Appalachian State for first 5-0 start since 1984-85
By Mark Giannotto,
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and Jarell Eddie have always been good friends off the floor, but their relationship has gone to another level since becoming roommates this year. Eddie does the cooking and Green makes sure the apartment stays clean in between video-game battles and nightly debates about whatever sport is on television.
Nowhere, though, has their synergy been more intriguing than on the basketball court, and the duo was at it again as Virginia Tech pulled away from Appalachian State for an 87-76 victory in a Friday matinee at Cassell Coliseum.
For a second straight game, Green and Eddie combined for 50 or more points and it helped the Hokies stave off a pesky Mountaineers squad and improve to 5-0 for the first time since the 1984-85 season.
“We talk a lot about the team and we talk a lot about basketball at home, so it has done wonders,” Eddie said as he flashed a smile to Green, whose penetration set him up for plenty of open looks on the perimeter.
Green led the charge again with a career-high 27 points, becoming the first Virginia Tech player since Bimbo Coles in 1989 to begin a campaign by scoring 20 or more points in five consecutive games. He also has made 31 straight free throws over the past three games after hitting all 11 of his foul shots Friday, part of a disjointed game in which the officials called 45 fouls. The Hokies hit 30 of their 39 foul shots for the game.
But it’s the efficient and multidimensional play of Eddie that has been a revelation for Virginia Tech. He followed up a career-high 28 points against UNC Greensboro on Monday with 23 points Friday, and he accomplished those numbers on just nine shots in both games.
Against the Mountaineers, Eddie hit four three-pointers but also showed off a variety of post moves and aggressive drives to the basket. The Charlotte native even threw down two dunks after having just one over the course of his entire college career entering Friday.
“Jarell Eddie’s a North Carolina kid, so I’ve seen him since he was in high school,” Appalachian State Coach Jason Capel said. “I tell you, he’s a helluva lot better now.”
Freshman Marshall Wood chipped in 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds, but by no means did the Hokies coast to a victory. They entered halftime up by just three points and, despite Virginia Tech’s size advantage, Appalachian State (1-4) stayed within striking distance largely because it won the rebounding battle (35-27) and got several tough buckets from guard Jay Canty (team-high 21 points).
But the Hokies eventually upped the tempo and their defensive intensity during a 13-2 run that began with less than 11 minutes remaining in the second half and spanned nearly six minutes. Appalachian State finished the game with 19 turnovers and by the time Green capped off the surge with a steal and fast-break dunk, Virginia Tech led 73-60 and never looked back.
It was a fitting finish for a pair of roommates that have cemented themselves as leaders heading into Virginia Tech’s toughest stretch of the nonconference season, with home games against Iowa and No. 20 Oklahoma State on the docket next.
“We’re the veterans of the team, the older guys and we’ve got to step up,” Eddie said. “We’re able to coexist really well.”