Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech: Erick Green wears out as Hokies cave in
By Mark Giannotto,
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech point guard Erick Green collapsed in a chair once the timeout ended and play resumed, immediately leaning his head against freshman Marshall Wood’s shoulder.
Only 31 seconds remained in the Hokies’ 64-54 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday and Green had just hit a jumper. But his body had already checked out.
Wood tapped Green on the shoulder to make sure he was awake. When he noticed Green’s eyes closed, Wood waved over team trainers. After carrying the Hokies on his back for 22 games and more than 39 minutes Saturday, the nation’s leading scorer needed to be carried off the court by Wood and walk-on Greg Donlon as the final buzzer sounded.
A team spokesman said Green was suffering from dehydration and did not require hospitalization because his vital signs were all fine. But even Coach James Johnson understood one game hadn’t caused this scare. It was the cumulative effect of being the only reliable option for a program that now sits in last place in the ACC after six straight losses.
“He didn’t faint, but he didn’t have any energy,” Johnson said after Virginia Tech (11-12, 2-8) fell below .500 overall for the first time this season. “He was out of gas and out of fumes. He had nothing in the tank. Nothing.”
Georgia Tech Coach Brian Gregory said Green was his choice for conference player of the year after the former All-Met torched the Yellow Jackets for 28 points, but the Hokies suffered a defeat that was more lopsided than the final score suggested because his supporting cast again failed to deliver.
Playing through a calf injury, Green connected on nine field goals Saturday and ended up outscoring the rest of his teammates, who combined for just 10 made baskets. Shooting guard Robert Brown was the only other Virginia Tech player to score in double figures (10 points), but it came on 4-of-16 shooting.
For a second straight game, the Hokies set a new season low by shooting 30.6 percent from the floor. After this latest setback, though, Johnson could be heard yelling at his players from outside Virginia Tech’s locker room.
Forward Jarell Eddie, the team’s second-leading scorer, did not play the final 17 minutes 18 seconds of the game and was held scoreless for the first time this season. The benching came after he slammed a water bottle so hard on the ground after picking up a third foul, the top popped off and ice and water spilled onto the court. Before officials could stop play, Brown slipped and fell on the debris, narrowly avoiding injury.
“We just need to have more from more guys,” Brown said. Johnson “feels some guys didn’t give it all they had at the end of the game when it was kind out of hand.”
In its second contest in less than 48 hours, Virginia Tech quickly ensured there would be no halftime lead to fumble away, as happened in recent losses to Miami, North Carolina and Maryland. The Hokies needed more than seven minutes to score their first field goal and trailed by 25 at home against Georgia Tech (13-9, 3-7), which entered Saturday winless on the road this season.
The Hokies closed the gap to 11 when the Yellow Jackets went more than nine minutes without a field goal in the second half. Green and walk-on Will Johnston scored every point during a 15-1 surge, but Virginia Tech couldn’t draw to within single digits until Green’s final jumper, the outcome long since decided.
“You want a lot of stuff to go through him, but at times, it can’t go through him all the time,” Johnson said. “It’s special to have a guy like Green out there on the floor, but you need some other guys. You need other guys to step up and make plays.”