Virginia Tech struggled throughout the game on Saturday afternoon, falling 64-54 to Georgia Tech at home.
“We’ve got to do a better job finishing games,” said James Johnson, head coach. “Got to have some other guys step up, but I thought we had some guys that fought.
“I just didn’t think we had it in our legs. The message was, ‘We’ve got to have some guys playing better and have to keep on fighting.’”
Erick Green had 28 for the Hokies (11-12, 2-8 ACC), who dropped their 12th contest in 16 games since opening the season 7-0.
“I think we’re better than a couple teams (in the ACC) and I think we should’ve beat a couple good teams,” said sophomore guard Robert Brown. “I think we should’ve pulled out Miami and Carolina. We just need more from more guys and we just need to play better at the end of the game.”
Green’s 28 were more than Georgia Tech’s two leading scorers combined. He spent the last few minutes of the game slumped over teammate Marshall Wood on the bench, reportedly due to dehydration.
“He was exhausted,” Johnson said. “He was fighting through the calf; the calf’s been bothering him. I could see he was really worn down. He didn’t have any energy, he was out of gas, fumes. I would say out of gas and out of fumes. Nothing.”
Green played 35 minutes in the game, and averages more than 36 a game. He leads the nation in scoring and has been carrying the team on his back all season.
“You can count on (Green) to (play hard) every single game,” said walk-on Will Johnston. “He’s a warrior.”
Brown had 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Johnston pitched in six points off the bench while playing a season-high 23 minutes.
“I feel like that’s my role every game is to provide a spark,” Johnston said. “Come in, knock down a couple shots if I have them, get a rebound, get a loose ball, stuff like that.”
Georgia Tech led by as many as 25. Tech went on a 15-1 run midway through the second half, but never got within 10 points.
“It started off bad, they got out to a lead. But we’ve got guys on this team that didn’t stop fighting,” Brown said. “We battled back into the game and towards the end it got out of hand. But throughout the game, we never gave up. We kept fighting the entire time.”
Tech trailed by 37-18 at the half, primarily due to a porous shooting effort. The Hokies made just six of their 29 first half attempts.
“We’re finding other people (besides Green),” Brown said. “Other people are getting good shots. But, people aren’t hitting shots.”
The Hokies travel to Charlottesville on Tuesday to take on a tough Virginia squad. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
“We can’t keep our heads down,” Johnston said. “We have to just keep pushing and not let it get to us.”
Despite their struggles, Brown is convinced this team can still compete.
“You have to keep having faith in your team,” he said. “I know what we’ve got on this team and we’re the same team that started off 7-0. We’re the same team, got the same players, same staff. We can turn it around.
“These last few games we’re going to keep fighting. Confidence wise, I’m with this team through thick and thin.”