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February 1, 2014

Hot-Shooting MD Rolls VT

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Unlike few games in the past month, Virginia Tech exuded a certain amount of confidence, a swagger, even, to start the game against Maryland.

Unfortunately, it didn't produce good enough shooting and enough points for the Hokies to keep up. Freshman guard Ben Emelogu put up a team-high 21 points, but the Terrapins jumped out to a big second half lead and coasted to an 80-60 win.

"It's frustrating how hard we work in practice, on the offensive end and the defensive end," Emelogu said. "We look good in practice, we've just gotta carry that to the game. It's frustrating that we're working hard and it's not paying off right now. It's gonna pay off in the future, we've just gotta keep pushing."

Maryland began the game shooting swiftly from the field, but Virginia Tech matched the Terrapins in stride. The Terps grabbed an early 11-8 lead, before the Hokies countered with a 13-4 run to take a 21-15 advantage with 9:26 left in the first half.

A 12-0 run though, by Maryland, quickly swung the momentum back to the visitors as Emelogu ended Virginia Tech's drought of three minutes with a jumper. The Terps would push the lead back to six points with a pair of free throws by junior forward Dez Wells with 3:26 left in the half for a 35-29 lead.

The Hokies closed the gap to within 37-35 with a minute to play, but the momentum once again swung back to the visitors. A pair of three-pointers, by sophomore guards Seth Allen and Jake Layman in the final seconds, gave Maryland a 43-35 halftime lead.

Virginia Tech shot a respectable 41.9 percent from the field in the opening half, but couldn't keep pace with the 57.1 percent shot by the Terps, including 5-9 shooting from behind the arc. The Hokies' saving grace was only one turnover, as opposed to seven by Maryland.

But the Terps came out of the second half gate with a bang, going on an 11-5 run. A steal and tomahawk dunk by Wells with 16:05 to play forced a Virginia Tech timeout, down 54-40. Maryland would tack on another three-pointer, free throw and pair of lay-ins to make it a 19-6 run to open the half.

"It's very deflating because you don't wanna lose a game by 20 or more," freshman guard Devin Wilson said. "You don't wanna lose a game at all, but we played so well the first 10 minutes and the last couple of minutes of the half we didn't play very well. We came out and played a little well, too, scored on the first possession. For them to start running away with it is kind of deflating.

The Hokies posed little threat, as players like senior forward Jarell Eddie continued to struggle. Eddie made just 2-4 free throws and missed all nine of his shots from the field for two points. As a team, Virginia Tech shot just 37 percent from the floor, while the Terps shot at an impressive 51.8 percent clip.

"It's a little bit of everything," coach James Johnson said. "Fatigue is definitely something. And when guys get fatigued, we don't necessarily play smart when we're out there tired, especially when you've got two freshman guards that are doing all they can do."

Virginia Tech's chances to end what's now an eight-game losing streak don't look too much better to finish the season. The Hokies are on the road for the next two games, at Florida State Wednesday and at Pittsburgh a week from today. Virginia Tech has also lost 10 of its last 11 games.

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