Virginia Tech broke a nine-game losing streak on Sunday against Florida State and will look to carry that momentum to Coral Gables on Wednesday at No. 5 Miami.
The Hokies (12-15, 3-11 ACC) will face the Hurricanes for the second time this season. Miami won the first matchup 73-64 in Blacksburg, due in large part to an impressive effort from point guard Shane Larkin.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us trying to figure out how we’re going to guard Larkin,” said James Johnson, head coach. “I definitely want to do something better against (him this time), try to see if we can’t contain him a little better off these ball screens.”
Larkin — the son of Hall-of-Fame Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin — scored 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting on Jan. 30 in Cassell Coliseum.
Tech point guard Erick Green — who dropped 30 against Miami in the first meeting — is looking forward to playing against his fellow ACC Player of the Year candidate.
“It’d be nice to have a good matchup with Shane Larkin — a good point guard in the ACC,” Green said. “I’m really happy for the kid; he’s had a great year. But honestly, I want to get the win. It’d be a great thing on national TV to upset Miami.”
Although Green’s focus is on winning, his scoring prowess has helped him work his way into the conversation for the conference’s best player. However, he knows playing on a losing team isn’t helping his chances.
"I’ll say what I’ve always said: I’ll let my game do the talking," Green said. "It’d be a great honor (to be ACC Player of the Year). Would I like to be it? Yes.
“Do I think I need to be up there? I think I should be in the conversation, but they go off of winning. I’m just going to let my game do the talking and let them decide from there.”
While Green remains humble, his coaches and teammates are quick to praise him.
“Erick is a great player. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen in my life,” said sophomore forward C.J. Barksdale. “For him to be (doing what he’s doing) is a crazy feat.”
The nation’s leading scorer has been the focal point and lone bright spot of Tech’s downtrodden squad all season long.
"I think Erick is the ACC Player of the Year based on how much he means to this team," Johnson said. "It’s unfortunate that the team is not showing in the win column, and I know that usually it’s the best player on the best team.