Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

December 24, 2012

Rams hammer Hokies in Vegas finals

LAS VEGAS — Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy told his players at halftime to stick with it, to keep taking their shots, and they would fall.

The message must have sunk in.

Pierce Hornung had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead four players in double figures as the Rams beat Virginia Tech 88-52 rout in the Las Vegas Classic championship game Sunday night.

After a methodical and balanced approach in a first half that gave them a 33-27 lead at halftime, the Rams opened the second half on a 12-2 run and went on to outscore the Hokies 55-25.

“We had to play four games in seven days and we handled it well,” Eustachy said. “This team has a tendency not to start great and we’re gonna get better at that. I just thought we showed some terrific toughness throughout the week and all the way to this last game. We weren’t tired. We could have played another day and a half. We’ve got men.”

Dorian Green also scored 18 points for the Rams (10-2), while Greg Smith had 17 and Colton Iverson added 15.

“I think Virginia Tech is beat up and they have had the flu go through their team,” Eustachy said. “I just think they were empty. I wouldn’t want to play them when they’re fresh in Blacksburg. We didn’t get their best shot, and it’s not their fault.”

Erick Green, the nation’s second-ranked scorer with 24.8 points per game, led the Hokies with 26 points. Jarell Eddie added 10 points.

The Hokies were without Marshall Wood, who fractured the third metatarsal in his left foot in a loss to Georgia Southern on Dec.15. The freshman forward is out indefinitely. Wood was averaging 5.8 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Playing in front of a sparse crowd at the Orleans Arena, the Rams made a statement in winning the title in front of a nationally televised audience. Facing arguably its toughest test of the season, the Mountain West’s Colorado State showed no signs of intimidation against the ACC’s Hokies (9-3), in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

“It doesn’t matter what type of message it sends, if we can get our game on the floor, we’re going to be successful,” Hornung said. “I think we just played how we know how to play out there, and it turned into success for us.”

While the Hokies couldn’t find any consistency on offense, Colorado State shot a blistering 60 percent (17 of 38) from the field in the second half, including eight 3-pointers from beyond the arc. The Rams took their biggest lead of the game (38 points) with 5:26 left in the game.

“This team has so many weapons, everyone on the team can score, and we’re so balanced that if you try and take away one thing, it’s gonna leave another guy open,” Iverson said.

“They tried to double in the post and we rotated the ball really well, and we had open guys all night long.”

The Rams, who entered the week leading the NCAA in rebounding margin with an average differential of 16.1 boards per game, have yet to be outrebounded in a game this year, and outrebounded the Hokies 45-32.

“Colorado State played a great game,” Virginia Tech head coach James Johnson said. “They were sharp, they were crisp with their passes, and they shot the ball extremely well. I’ve gotta give them credit, that’s a really good team.”

Colorado State returns to action Dec. 29 at home. Meanwhile, the Hokies have another tough road trip to endure, returning west on Dec. 29 to face BYU.


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