The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team improved to 6-0 Tuesday night for the first time since the 1982-83 season, defeating Iowa 95-79.
“We were fortunate; we came out ready to play, and our guys stepped up to the challenge tonight,” said James Johnson, head coach.
After a 16-2 Hawkeyes run in the second half cut the Tech lead to three, the Hokies pulled away down the stretch thanks to the 24 points by Erick Green and 18 points from Robert Brown.
“Coach Johnson just told us to calm down, and he told us at halftime that they were going to make a run like every team does,” Brown said. “He just showed us in the timeout that they made their run and it was time to us to make ours.”
The Hokies again had a great shooting night, finishing 32-of-61 from the field (52.5 percent).
Green, who has now scored 20-plus points in each game this season, is now averaging 24.3 points per game and was named ACC Co-Player of the Week last week. He did not heat up until late in the first half and after halftime.
“I just led my team into the right spots and I was hitting shots,” Green said. “I just started being more aggressive than I was in the first half and I started feeling it.”
The Hokies are now 3-5 all-time in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, with all three wins coming against Iowa.
In coach James Johnson’s newly installed up-tempo offense, Tech has now gone over 80 points for the fifth time this season. The Hokies went over 80 points only three times in the 2011-12 season.
“It’s fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work and conditioning,” Brown said. “The results are that the fans are happy, we’re getting wins and we’re happy. It’s fun playing for coach Johnson.”
This season, the Hokies have scored over 90 points three times.
“It’s the type of style we always play,” Green said. “We always want to score 70, 80 and anything above, and honestly, the way we practice…everyday in practice we run so much. It’s been paying off and we’ve been putting up a lot of points.”
In the first half, the Hokies and Hawkeyes played an up-tempo and competitive 20 minutes. Tech, with a significant size disadvantage, was able to keep Iowa off the glass, outrebounding the Hawkeyes 18-14 in the first half.
Trailing by one with 2:49 left in the half, the Hokies went on a 10-1 run to take a 46-38 lead. That run extended into the second half, as Green scored nine-straight points out of the break.
After Iowa answered the run, the Hokies built their lead back up to as large as 21 points, ultimately taking home the win.
“We said at halftime that they were going to make their run, but we just had to respond back, and we did a great job getting out run, we got some easy baskets and took the lead back,” Green said.
Iowa, the first test for the Hokies, provided a benchmark for Johnson's young squad.
“We were really looking forward to (this game),” Brown said. “We knew they were a good team, and playing against a good team like Iowa gave us another hurdle to get over. We did it kind of convincingly.”
Tech now faces another test in Oklahoma State Saturday. The Cowboys are 5-0 with wins over Tennessee and No. 6 North Carolina State.
“It keeps going up, but I think we’re ready for that test too,” Brown said. “It’s another hurdle we have to climb, and we gave a couple days of practice ahead of us and we’re going to get better and ready to play.”
Tip off against the Cowboys is set for 2 p.m. on ESPN3.