BLACKSBURG Only a teammate could slow down Erick Green’s scoring Monday night. Green equaled his career-high with 25 points as Virginia Tech won its second straight basketball game to open the season, cruising past overmatched Rhode Island 69-50 at a half-empty Cassell Coliseum.
Green, the Hokies’ senior point guard, had multiple chances to break his personal mark late in the game, but said it was teammate Jarell Eddie who threw him off.
“Man, I honestly had no idea I had 25 until I was at the foul line and Jarell said, ‘You’re going for 30,’” Green said. “I looked up and I just lost my focus.”
Green missed his final three free throws and his last 3-point attempt after that.
It didn’t matter in the big picture as James Johnson comfortably improved to 2-0 as Virginia Tech’s coach.
Monday night, Johnson never even took off his suit jacket.
Tech (2-0), which wasn’t really tested in its opener against East Tennessee State on Saturday, either, opened the game on a 13-0 run, making six of its first eight shots.
Later, Green scored eight straight himself to help put the Hokies comfortably out in front.
First-year Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley’s team cut the lead to four at 28-24 late in the first half, but Green responded with back-to-back 3-pointers, helping drop the Rams to 0-2.
“Obviously one of the best point guards in the ACC, probably one of the better in the country,” Hurley said. “He’s just such a well-rounded guard, poised, shoots it, flawless guard.”
And clearly the Hokies’ go-to guy offensively.
“I think any given night we have a couple different people who can give you 15 or 20,” said sophomore guard Robert Brown, who scored 12 points. “Tonight was Erick’s night, like it’s been a couple times, or a bunch of times last year. If he’s feeling it, we’re going to try to give him the ball and try to feed off of him.”
Junior forward Cadarian Raines (Petersburg) posted his first career double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Eddie, a junior forward, scored nine points and had eight rebounds.
Unhappy with his team’s rebounding effort against East Tennessee State, Johnson made that a major point of emphasis Monday. And Raines, who had four rebounds in the opener, responded.
“I just wanted to make sure I was rebounding,” Raines said. “I didn’t care about the scoring, none of that. I just wanted to make sure I rebounded the ball well today. Coach made sure he stayed on me about getting rebounds. I dreamed about getting rebounds.”
What did he expect to dream about Monday night?
“More rebounds,” Raines said with a smile.
As it did in the ETSU win, Tech shot the ball well from the perimeter, hitting seven of its 21 attempts from beyond the 3-point line.
Rhode Island was less effective, going 1 for 21 from 3-point range and shooting just 33.9 percent for the game.
Tech got sophomore guard Marquis Rankin back. Rankin missed the opener after going home to deal with a family issue. He did not play against Rhode Island, but Johnson declared him “ready to go” for Thursday’s home game against VMI.