By HANK KURZ Jr.
BLACKSBURG, Va. —
Jarell Eddie scored a career-high 34 points and Virginia Tech outlasted Winthrop 81-63 Tuesday night.
Eddie scored 20 points in the first half, including 17 straight for the Hokies (6-3) in one stretch, and Virginia finally pulled away with a 20-7 run to open a 70-56 lead with 5 minutes remaining.
Freshman Keon Johnson scored 15 points to lead the Eagles (5-2) and Joab Jerome had 13.
The game was close throughout until the Hokies’ second-half burst which came after the Eagles closed to within 50-49 on a 3-pointer by Josh Davenport, quieting the sparse crowd at Cassell Coliseum.
Devin Wilson started the run with a free throw and C.J. Barksdale hit an 18-footer. After Jeroma scored for Winthrop, Eddie hit a runner, then a 12-foot turnaround. He later added his second four-point play of the night as he finished 13 for 18 from the field, 6 for 8 on 3-pointers and added seven rebounds.
His previous career high of 28 points was set last season at U.N.C-Greensboro.
Eddie’s hot night was critical for the Hokies, who shot 60.4 percent (29-48) but also turned the ball over 18 times. The sloppy play allowed the Eagles to stay close even after going scoreless for nearly 4:30 in one stretch of the second half. It was late in the Eagles’ scoring drought that the Hokies took command.
Virginia Tech led 42-33 at halftime.
Winthrop, small and quick, used a 14-3 burst to take a 19-16 lead midway through the half.
Eddie then led a 21-7 spurt in which he scored the first 14 points. When he went to the bench for a rest, Cadarian Raines made a pair of free throws in his first appearance in two games, and Will Johnston, who has missed badly twice, made a deep 3.
The Hokies played without Marquis Rankin, who hasn’t played yet this season for what coach James Johnson calls “a personal matter,” and without freshman captain Ben Emelogu because of a concussion.