GAME NOTES: Instate rivals collide in Blacksburg on Thursday, as the Virginia Tech Hokies welcome the Virginia Cavaliers to Cassell Coliseum for an ACC showdown.
This is the most played rivalry in Virginia Tech history, as this marks the 136th all-time meeting. Virginia holds an 82-53 series advantage, but the series has tightened up since Tech joined to the ACC with Virginia posting a 9-8 edge.
James Johnson's first season in Blacksburg has been successful to this point, with the Hokies sporting an 11-6 overall record. Virginia Tech did drop its first two league bouts, but has righted the ship of late, with back-to-back narrow wins over Georgia Tech (70-65 OT) and most recently, Wake Forest (66-65).
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers are once again one of the nation's premier defensive squads and certainly drove that point home against Florida State last time out, limiting the Seminoles to a mere 36 points in a 20-point romp. The win ended a two-game skein and evened Virginia's conference record to 2-2.
The Cavaliers rank second nationally in scoring defense, allowing a mere 50.6 ppg. The team has carried that strong effort into ACC action, holding all four conference foes under 60 points thus far. With defensive numbers like that, the team doesn't need to be an offensive juggernaut. Still, the team has a potent inside/outside game in the form of guard Joe Harris and forward Akil Mitchell. Hall leads the team in scoring at 15.2 ppg and is shooting .463 from behind the arc (37-of-80). Mitchell nets 12.3 ppg and ranks among the ACC's best in rebounding (fifth in the conference at 9.1 rpg).
Harris and Mitchell led the way in the win over Florida State, as Harris posted 17 points, while Mitchell checked in with 13.
Virginia Tech is more of a threat to put up big scoring efforts thanks to the explosiveness of Erick Green. The 6-foot-4 senior has posted 20 or more points in 16 of the 17 games this season and currently leads the nation at 24.6 ppg. Green is also the team's primary distributor, doling out 4.4 apg. Jarell Eddie is a nice complement to Green, adding 14.5 ppg to the mix, while grabbing 6.6 rpg. Robert Brown rounds out the team's top scoring threats with 10.2 ppg.
Brown hit a jumper with just under 13 seconds left in the game, lifting the Hokies to a one-point victory over Wake Forest this past weekend. Brown had an otherwise miserable outing, shooting just 2-of-11 overall and finishing with a mere four points, but saved the best for last. Green was once again the driving force on the offensive end, netting 22 points. Eddie just missed a double-double, pouring in 18 points and grabbing nine boards.
These teams are pretty evenly matched and it will be up to Green to break through Virginia's defenses to leads his team to victory. That of course, is easier said than done.
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