Virginia Tech knocked off East Tennessee State 80-62 on Saturday afternoon, giving James Johnson his first win as a head coach. The Hokies are now 1-0 heading into Monday night’s game with Rhode Island.
“It means a lot to get the win, but it means more to me for the team to come out and execute and do the things we’ve been working on since July 6,” Johnson said following the game.
The Hokies controlled the game from start to finish, despite being down to seven scholarship players. Marquis Rankin missed the game because of a family situation, leaving r-freshman Joey van Zegeren and true freshman Marshall Wood as the only scholarship players on the bench. Walkon guard Will Johnston served as Tech’s 8th player in this game, playing 13 minutes and scoring 3 points while dishing out 2 assists.
Wood finished the game with 5 points and 6 rebounds, while van Zegeren added 6 points, 2 rebounds and a block.
“I was excited to get back out on the court,” van Zegeren said. “The first couple of times up and down the court, I was a little nervous.”
Wood discussed transitioning to the speed of the college game.
“Fast! Fast!,” Wood said. “People are a lot faster, stronger and bigger. It’s totally different from high school. I think I did pretty good for my first game. I got a lot more comfortable as the game went on.”
The Hokies crushed ETSU with a superior backcourt. Erick Green paced Tech with 21 points, and he also added 6 assists and 1 steal. He committed just 1 turnover. Robert Brown , who also played some point guard when Green needed a rest, had 16 points and 5 assists, and also had just 1 turnover. Brown was 4-of-7 from three-point range, and as a team Tech went 10-of-25 (40%) from behind the arc.
Jarell Eddie finished with a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with his 17 points. Tech’s post players weren’t particularly effective in this game. Cadarian Raines had 9 points and 4 rebounds, but he didn’t have any rebounds until the second half. C.J. Barksdale had no points and only 3 rebounds, and in general was outperformed by Marshall Wood .
James Johnson acknowledged after the game that the Hokies need to be better on the glass, as they were outrebounded 39-37. ETSU had 14 offensive rebounds.
“There are things we need to work on, and rebounding is one of them,” Johnson said. “I didn’t like the way we were on the backboards against those guys. I think that’s an area we can improve on.”
Overall, it was a solid start for the Hokies, whose biggest lead was 25 points.
Virginia Tech returns to action on Monday night when they host Rhode Island. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be available online on ESPN3.