UPDATED Feb. 25, 2013, 8:22 a.m. to correct Rankin’s playing time. He played the first 2 minutes and 48 seconds of the second half and then left the game. Earlier, we incorrectly reported that he missed the entire second half. We blame it on Leonard Hamilton’s hack-a-Barksdale strategy that made the second half go on FOREVER.
The nine-game losing streak is over. Virginia Tech, which hadn’t won a game in more than a month, frustrated florida state all day and got balanced scoring and deadly accurate free throw shooting down the stretch to beat the noles 80-70.
The victory prevented the Hokies’ first 10-game losing streak since the 2001-02 season.
Erick Green, the Winchester Rifleman, scored a game-high 26 points on 8/17 shooting and a perfect 9/9 from the free throw line. Ever more impressive, Green finally got some help Sunday evening. For the second straight contest, sophomore C.J. Barksdale scored a career-high 17 points and made 9/11 free throws – eight in the final 2:37. In addition to Barksdale’s big night, the Hokies got 25 points from the bench.
Robert Brown played arguably his best game since he scored 18 points in a 95-79 win over Iowa back on Dec. 7, 2012. Brown was 6/8 from the field and 5/5 from the FT line in that game. Sunday night, he was 4/8 from the field, 1/3 from three-point range, and 2/2 from the charity stripe.
Marquis Rankin played out-of-his-mind defense on Michael Snaer in the first half. Snaer, as you probably recall, killed the Hokies last season with a buzzer beater to win the game. Rankin, who has 8 points in the first half, got sick during halftime, and only played the first 2:48 of the second half. After that, he did not return.
Trailing 6-3 in the opening minutes of the first half, the Hokies reeled off a 6-0 run to take a 9-6 lead. The noles responded with an 8-0 run of their own. Tech was not to be denied, though. Brown scored six straight points for the Hokies to keep the home team within striking distance.
With the score 21-19 in fsu’s favor, the noles’ head coach Leonard Hamilton started screaming at the officials and kept on screaming. He was finally T’ed up and darn near got thrown out of the game. That sent Tech’s Erick Green to the free throw line for a pair of uncontested shots that tied the game at 21.
Green went on to score VT’s last seven points (and 9 of its last 11) in the first half to give the Hokies a slim 28-26 half-time lead.
The second half was all Hokies for the most part, despite not having Rankin and his lockdown defense on Snear. Tech opened the second half with a 14-3 run and while the noles closed the gap a few times, the Hokies weren’t to be denied their first win in more than a month.
Green scored 15 of his 26 points down the stretch to secure the victory, but this was the first total team win in a long time for first-year head coach James Johnson. Though Green played a game-high 38 minutes, he wasn’t the only threat the noles had to worry about tonight. Barksdale played very well, especially crashing the boards and going after loose balls.
Rankin, as we mentioned, was incredible on defense. Walk-on Christian Beyer even got in on the action with a pretty reverse layup (that didn’t get blocked) that gave the Hokies a 23-21 lead. And Will Johnston (aka Willy-J), another walk-on making his third career start, had a career-high three steals.
This was a must-win game. This team, and in particular, this coach, did not need the dubious distinction of being the first Virginia Tech squad in 11 years to lose 10 straight games.
Earlier in the day, on the same court, the Virginia Tech women defeated the 19th-ranked fsu women’s team, 71-52. When the men followed with their win over the noles, it marked the first time since March 6, 2004, that both the Virginia Tech men’s and women’s basketball teams beat the same opponent on the same day.