By JIMMY ROBERTSON
BLACKSBURG, Va. —
Virginia Tech basketball coach James Johnson wants Jarell Eddie to be one thing on the offensive end of the court.
Eddie, one of just two Virginia Tech seniors and the lone senior perimeter player, scored 21 points to lead the Hokies past Virginia Military Institute 105-92 on Monday.
Led by Eddie, the Hokies (3-1) hit a season-high 11 3-pointers. Eddie tied his career high with five and shot 7 of 12 from the floor overall — including 5 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also made both of his free-throw attempts and grabbed six rebounds.
“That’s the word with him — efficient,” Johnson said. “I think he took 12 shots and had 21 points. That opens it up for the rest of the guys. A couple of drives to the basket, if we drove it to Eddie’s side, they (the Keydets) didn’t want to leave him open and we were able to finish at the basket. When Eddie plays like that, he helps everyone on the floor out.”
Eddie’s shooting certainly opened things up for the Hokies, who topped the 100-point mark for the first time since the 2011 season. Five players scored in double figures for Virginia Tech, and every Hokie player who played in the game scored.
Freshman guard Ben Emelogu added 19 points off the bench for the Hokies and hit four 3-pointers. C.J. Barksdale, who was suspended for the first three games of this season by Virginia Tech coach James Johnson for a violation of team rules, scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in his season debut.
Virginia Tech shot 11 of 17 from beyond the 3-point arc. Emelogu made 4 of 7, and Marshall Wood made his lone attempt. Adam Smith hit 1 of 2.
“He (Eddie) shot over a hand a couple of times,” VMI coach Duggar Baucom said. “I thought he got loose for a couple, but a lot of guys don’t shoot 11 of 17 in a gym by themselves. They really, really shot it good. Going into the game, they were shooting 38 percent, and they almost doubled that. We thought their size might give us some trouble, but it was those two guys (Eddie and Emelogu) who combined for 40 points.”
Virginia Tech led by as many as 20 in the second half after Smith’s 3-pointer with 13:50 remaining and appeared to be coasting toward an easy victory. But VMI started pressing, and the Hokies got sloppy with the ball. Eight of Virginia Tech’s 16 turnovers came in the final 13 minutes of the game.
VMI cut the lead to 98-92 on two free throws by QJ Peterson with 1:18 left, but the Hokies scored the game’s final seven points.
Barksdale scored on a lay-up with 1:10 left, and after a missed 3-pointer by Peterson, Smith hit a free throw to give the Hokies a 101-92 lead with 56 seconds to go. Trey Chapman then missed a 3-pointer, and Eddie got the rebound. He tossed it ahead to Barksdale, who broke free for a dunk to give the Hokies a 103-92 lead with 39 seconds left to all but seal the game.
“I’m not going to blame it on the young guys,” Eddie said of VMI’s comeback. “I had a turnover, too. C.J. and I ran into each other one time on a rebound, and the ball goes out of bounds. It was just a lot of sloppiness at the end. We didn’t close that game out the way we wanted to.”
Johnson was also frustrated with his team’s finish.
“I didn’t think we were strong enough with the basketball,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to be stronger with the ball and make better decisions. A couple of times, we threw it right to them. We’ve got to be better than that. We’ve got to be stronger against the press.
“Our young troops found a way to win it. It was not pretty at times, but we found a way to win and that’s what you’ve got to do sometimes. You’ve got to grind it out and find a way to win.”
Peterson missed a jumper with 33 seconds left and then fouled the Hokies’ Will Johnston, who made two free throws with 31 seconds left to account for the final margin.
Rodney Glasgow and Peterson led VMI (3-2) with 22 points each. D.J. Covington added 20 points and five rebounds for the Keydets, who were outrebounded 52-31.
“I think the thing that hurt us was that Jarell Eddie was so hot,” Covington said. “When you’re doing everything perfectly on defense, and he’s coming off screens and your guy is there and he’s still hitting shots. That throws a wrench in your plans.
“It’s hard to beat someone when they’re shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line.”
Covington 8-14 4-6 20, Hinton 4-5 2-2 13, Glasgow 8-17 2-2 22, Brown 1-4 0-0 2, Peterson 8-22 4-7 22, Chapman 1-5 2-2 4, Marshall 0-0 0-0 0, Anglade 0-0 0-0 0, Watson 1-2 0-0 2, Eleby 2-4 1-2 6, Weethee 0-6 1-2 1. Totals 33-79 16-23 92.
VIRGINIA TECH (3-1)
Raines 3-3 3-4 9, Eddie 7-12 2-2 21, Wood 2-4 2-2 7, Smith 4-10 2-4 11, Wilson 4-7 5-5 13, Van Zegeren 1-1 1-2 3, Emelogu 6-13 3-3 19, Johnston 0-0 2-2 2, Thompson 2-7 0-0 4, Barksdale 7-12 2-2 16. Totals 36-69 22-26 105.
Halftime—Virginia Tech 44-33. 3-Point Goals—VMI 10-36 (Glasgow 4-8, Hinton 3-4, Peterson 2-11, Eleby 1-3, Brown 0-2, Chapman 0-3, Weethee 0-5), Virginia Tech 11-17 (Eddie 5-5, Emelogu 4-7, Wood 1-1, Smith 1-2, Wilson 0-1, Barksdale 0-1). Fouled Out—Covington, Emelogu, Wilson. Rebounds—VMI 31 (Covington, Peterson 5), Virginia Tech 52 (Wood 8). Assists—VMI 8 (Glasgow 4), Virginia Tech 16 (Wilson 4). Total Fouls—VMI 20, Virginia Tech 21. A—4,162.