3-5 Georgia Southern, with one win over Division 1 competition, led the entire game and dealt Virginia Tech their first home loss, 78-73.
Georgia Southern is a bad basketball team, but against the Hokies, they played with confidence and emotion, outshooting and outrebounding the Hokies on the way to a stunning victory. Eagle starters C.J. Reed, Cleon Roberts, and Eric Ferguson lit the Hokies up from the outside, shooting 11-of-19 from beyond the arc. As a team, GSU shot 11-26 (42.3%) from deep. The Eagles, with no starter over 6-7, outrebounded Tech 41-38, including 16 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second chance points.
By contrast, the Hokies had their third straight game shooting less than 28% from the three point line. Tech went 6-of-27 (22.2%) from beyond the arc, including 4-of-21 from stars Erick Green, Jarell Eddie, and Robert Brown. Green and Eddie combined to miss their first ten three-pointers before Eddie finally canned one.
Green led Tech with 28 points, his tenth straight game over 20 points, breaking the Virginia Tech record previously held by Bimbo Coles. Eddie, despite shooting 6-of-19 from the field (3-of-13 from three point range), scored 21 points and added eight rebounds. The only other Hokie in double figures was C.J. Barksdale, who scored ten points and led the Hokies with nine rebounds.
Robert Brown had just four points on 1-of-7 shooting, and Cadarian Raines went scoreless for the second straight game and had just three rebounds. Just like the Mississippi Valley State game, Raines played just 12 minutes, but this time, he didn’t foul out, committing just two personals.
The Hokies gave up numerous open looks to Georgia Southern, who capitalized. Virginia Tech’s three point shots were likewise mostly wide open looks, but the Hokies struggled to make them.
Erick Green admitted in the post-game interview with the Tech radio network that the Hokies came out flat. Georgia Southern jumped out to an 8-0 lead just two and a half minutes in, a lead they never surrendered. The Hokies closed it to 13-12 and later trailed just 25-23, but a 17-4 GSU run that spanned half time put the Hokies down 42-27 with 18:10 to go.
Trying to play catchup, the Hokies struggled with the one thing that would have helped them: three pointers. GSU extended their lead another point, going up 64-48 with 7:55 left.
At that point, the Hokies were a horrid 2-of-18 from three-point range, while GSU was 10-of-23.
Jarell Eddie hit his first three pointer of the game with 7:08 to go, sparking a 23-10 run by the Hokies that also ended with an Eddie three-pointer with 54 seconds left. That made it 74-71, and after GSU missed a three pointer with 29 seconds to go, the Hokies rebounded, and Erick Green got a good look at a three pointer that would have tied it with 23 seconds left.
Green missed, Georgia Southern’s Cameron Baskerville grabbed the rebound, and the Eagles hit their free throws down the stretch to stun the Hokies by five. Despite his phenomenal play, and the fact that he is carrying the Hokies, Green has missed two critical shots in the last three games (GSU and WVU). It’s a shame to see such a great player not come through in the clutch, and it bothers Green greatly, as well.
Make no mistake, this is the definition of a bad loss, at home against a bad team, and all talk of the Hokies and the NCAA Tournament ends with this loss, barring a long winning streak in ACC play. After a torrid 7-0 start that included solid wins against Iowa and #15 Oklahoma State, Tech’s shooting touch has left them, and they have dropped two of three to fall to 8-2. The Hokies have shot just 39.9% from the field in that three-game stretch, including just 22.8% from three-point range.
James Johnson and his crew will try to regroup in Las Vegas against 6-2 Bradley next Saturday, Dec. 22nd. Bradley plays this same GSU squad Monday night at home, and Mississippi Valley State (Tech’s previous opponent) Wednesday night at home.