Despite another heroic effort from Erick Green, Virginia Tech fell to No. 14 Miami on Wednesday night, 73-64.
“I thought the team played extremely hard tonight,” said James Johnson, head coach. “I thought we were ready to play, I thought we came out with a lot of energy.”
The Hokies (11-9, 2-5 ACC) were up big for much of the first half, leading by as many as 12. However, Miami fought their way back into it, going on a 7-0 run to end the half and pulling within three at 32-29.
The Hurricanes (16-3, 7-0 ACC) kept the pressure on to open the second half, taking a 38-34 lead just three minutes in, thanks in large part to point guard Shane Larkin — son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin — who finished with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting
“Coming into the game, I thought he was the key to their team,” Johnson said. “He’s the head on the snake and I thought he made plays. He made big shots behind the ball screens.”
It didn’t seem to matter what the Hokies did, as Larkin just hit shot after shot en route to one of the best performances of his career.
“We tried to press him, going in front of the ball screens, but he’s a good shooter,” said sophomore guard Robert Brown. “He hit a big one at the end of the game that kind of put it away.”
After Miami went on a quick run to open the second half, Green took over, hitting three three-pointers during a four-possession span, the last of which he nailed which falling down.
“It’s amazing what he’s doing,” Johnson said. “It is absolutely amazing. Sometimes I look out there on the floor and there are times in the game when I want him to be even more aggressive.
“He just need a little bit more help. He needs some guys to step up for him and make plays.”
Green finished with 30 points while shooting 11-of-20 from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. The rest of the team managed to shoot just 13-of-33 from the floor.
Despite little to show for his individual success night after night, Green remained optimistic postgame.
“I’m having fun,” he said. “This is the most fun I’ve had in my four years. These guys are getting me open and I’m just making shots. I’m having a great time and I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
Aside from Green, Brown and Jarell Eddie actually had pretty solid games, shooting a combined 7-of-10 from the floor, including 5-of-6 from three-point range. They finished with eight and 14 points, respectively.
“When you’ve got Erick Green — I think he may have scored nine straight points by himself — he’s coming off screens, draining threes, there’s not many opportunities for (Brown and Eddie),” Johnson said. “He came back and gave us the lead singlehandedly.”
In a night where it was expected that Miami’s frontcourt size would dominate the Hokies down low, it was its outside shooting that saw them to victory.
Cadarian Raines gave an impressive effort in the paint against 295-pound Reggie Johnson, who scored just four points on the night.
“I’m glad I played well,” Raines said. “Last year (Johnson) got the best of me, so I wanted to come out and show him I could play, too.”
Brown seemed to come out of his slump early, scoring eight points in the first 10 minutes of the game. However, he only attempted two shots the rest of the night.
“Robert’s got to pick his spots,” Johnson said. “I think that’s something that’s happened in the past, his shot selection, and I think he’s more conscious of that now. And I’m okay with that.”