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December 3, 2013

Eddie's Hot Hand Carries VT

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There was little calling for the ball by senior forward Jarell Eddie tonight. It was simply a matter of, when the ball came his way, Eddie was ready to shoot.

And by the 5:35 mark of the second half, Eddie was plenty warm. Eddie knocked down a three-pointer from the corner and was fouled in the process. He'd complete a four-point play, his second in the game to give the Hokies some late momentum. Virginia Tech lost a nine-point halftime lead, but finished the game on a 26-10 run in less than eight minutes to coast to an 81-63 win.

"You know what, he got in a zone and we went to him," coach James Johnson said. "He delivered. He made some nice plays. I didn't think he forced anything tonight. I thought he was very, very efficient. He scored the ball, he rebounded the ball, he played the point, he was our backup point guard tonight. That was a performance."

Eddie poured in a career-high 34 points, while junior forward C.J. Barksdale added 13 points.

The Hokies themselves got off to a strong start. Less than six minutes in, they grabbed a 13-5 lead after a three-pointer from sophomore forward Marshall Wood and thanks to eight quick points by sophomore forward Joey Van Zegeren.

But Winthrop used a 12-3 run to get back in it and take its first lead of the game with 10:46 left in the first half. The Eagles pushed that lead to 19-16 soon after.

That's when Eddie found his shooting touch.

On a 17-3 run by himself, Eddie single-handedly put Virginia Tech back in control. He knocked down three three-pointers during that stretch to give the Hokies a 30-24 lead with 5:36 to play before halftime.

"I just, after I made one, I kinda got in a zone," Eddie said. "My teammates were finding me in really good areas and I was able to make the shots. After that, I kinda started feeling it and just rolled that way."

The lead grew to 37-26 after a three-pointer by junior Will Johnston and a layup by senior forward Cadarian Raines.

For Raines, it was his first action since playing the first three minutes two games ago against Furman. Two earlier free throws by Raines were his first since Seton Hall three games ago.

Eddie made it 20 points for the half, on a three-pointer with 1:43 left in the opening half for a 40-28 Virginia Tech lead. The Hokies went into the break with a 42-33 advantage though, with help from Van Zegeren on a block of an Eagles layup attempt as the halftime buzzer sounded.

Winthrop rebounded a bit with the first five points of the second half and cut its deficit to 48-46 on a layup with 14:54 to play. The Eagles then clawed to within 50-49 on a three-pointer.

The Hokies struggled to get much breathing room, but gradually got there. A driving layup with 6:25 remaining gave Virginia Tech a 61-54 lead, its largest since the opening minutes of the half.

Not to be forgotten, Eddie helped push the Hokies ahead further. Knocking down a three-pointer from the corner, Eddie was fouled. He sank the free throw for his second four-point play of the game for a 67-56 lead.

"When they closed in, we definitely had to score," Eddie said. "It just so happened that we ran the screen and roll, they didn't hedge hard enough and I was able to get around the edge. I just attacked the basket and I was able to beat 'em."

The advantage climbed to 75-59 at the 3:44 mark, after Barksdale sank a tough layup in the paint, was fouled and sank the free throw. A pair of free throws by freshman Devin Wilson turned what was once a two-point Virginia Tech lead to 77-59 with just 2:49 to play, plenty enough for the Hokies to coast from there, as they ended the game on a 26-10 run over the final 7:41.

Eddie has had a few good games, but his previous career-high was 28 last season at UNC-Greensboro. Tonight, he eclipsed that mark on an efficient 13 of 18 shooting, 6-8 on three-pointers.

"I would have to say 34 at this level is pretty special," Eddie said. "I've never had 30 points in a collegiate game, so it definitely ranks up there at the top as one of my best performances."

Virginia Tech moves to 6-3 on the season and will travel to Miami for its first ACC game of the season, at 12:30 pm ET on Sunday.

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