Erick Green’s career high 35 points weren’t enough Thursday night as the Hokies fell to the Virginia Cavaliers 74-58.
The senior remains in first place in the nation in points per game, but the Hokies have failed to find consistent secondary scoring options.
“It’s frustrating, but I couldn’t care less about how many points I score,” Green said. “All I care about is winning, and this is frustrating.”
Head coach James Johnson was impressed by Green's demeanor throughout the game despite the tough defense.
"They played good defnese all around, they even played good defense on Erick," Johnson said. "(Green) made tough shots, he played the way he's been playing."
Virginia used a 24-2 run in the first half to gain the lead before Green ended the half with six-straight points. The Hokies went into the locker room trailing 34-25.
“We needed a bucket,” said Jarell Eddie. “When they were making that run, we needed a stop. They were really just cashing in.”
Virginia’s slow pace and transition defense took the Hokies out of their comfort zone for most of the night. Tech finished with 14 turnovers and only two transition points.
The Cavaliers scored 20 points off Hokies turnovers, giving the Hokies a very small margin for error. Green’s message throughout the struggles was the stay positive.
“Erick was really positive, he just wanted us to win the game,” Eddie said. “He kept encouraging us like a really good leader.”
Green’s 35 points keep him decimal points ahead of Creighton junior forward Doug McDermott in points per game. Should he continue to excel, he could be a candidate for first team All-American and ACC Player of the Year.
“I felt like Erick was just playing and he was in the zone tonight,” Eddie said. “He definitely took the challenge, he had a great defender in Jontel Evans on him tonight. He took that challenge and really exploded tonight.”
Against one of the better defensive teams in not only the ACC but the entire country, Green extended his lead over McDermott.
“I can score,” Green said. “I feel like I can score. I have confidence in my game and my teammates got me open. I hit some shots, and I just feel like I can score the ball.”
Evan Nolte posted a career high 18 points for the Cavaliers in the win. Joe Harris added 17.
Robert Brown and Eddie continued to struggle in their role as starters, combining for nine points on 2-of-14 shooting.
“(UVa) is a really good defensive team, and they did things that made guys miss shots,” Eddie said. “I can credit our missed shots to their defense.”
Green remains confident that his supporting cast will turn it around.
“You have to keep faith,” Green said. “These guys are going to come, and we’ve got some time left. 13 games left is plenty of time. I’ve got plenty of faith in all these guys and they’re going to come along. It’s just going to take a little bit.”
Tech, now 11-8 (2-3 ACC), now faces the meat of their ACC schedule. Johnson said the Hokies must play with the hand they were dealt.
"There's not much we can do," Johnson said. "We'd like to let them sit and relax and watch the game a little bit and let the game come to them, but it is what it is, and we've got what we've got, and we've got to play with it right now."
The Hokies return to action Sunday afternoon when they will travel to Clemson, SC to face the Tigers. Tip off is set for 1 p.m on ESPN3.