Virginia Tech lost to USC Upstate 64-63 in the opening basketball game of the season on Saturday afternoon. The Hokies are 0-1, and now must host West Virginia on Tuesday afternoon on ESPN.
The Hokies were without junior forward C.J. Barksdale , their best rebounder, who is suspended for the first three games because of a violation of team rules. Junior point guard Marquis Rankin was on the bench in street clothes taking the game off for “personal reasons” after being beaten out for the starting job earlier this week by freshman Devin Wilson .
Jarell Eddie had 18 points and seven rebounds. He scored 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting in the first half, but he finished the game just 6-of-21 from the field after going 1-of-9 over the final 20 minutes. Cadarian Raines finished with a career-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He scored all of his points in the second half.
Adam Smith , a dynamic scorer for UNC-Wilmington two years ago, had just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting. Freshman point guard Devin Wilson had four points, three assists and three turnovers in his first career start.
Joey van Zegeren did what was expected of him, pulling down seven rebounds (including four offensive rebounds) off the bench, and he also finished with a career-high five blocks. Will Johnston came off the bench to hit both of his three-point attempts, and finished with six points. Freshman wing Ben Emelogu had six quick points in the first half, but missed most of the second half with foul trouble.
The Hokies held USC Upstate to just 37.5% shooting, but they forced only nine turnovers and shot just 9-of-18 from the free throw line, including a 5-of-13 mark in the second half. They had plenty of chances to win the game, but their inexperience and lack of talent showed against a Spartan squad that returned five starters from a team that has gone a combined 37-30 over the last two seasons, including a postseason bid to the CIT.
Things won’t get any easier, as West Virginia and Bob Huggins come to town for a Tuesday afternoon game at 1pm. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN.