To go to 7-0 on the season, Virginia Tech had to play more aggressive and more physical to match its opponent than it had so far this season. And it paid off.
The Hokies battled their way to an 81-71 win over Oklahoma State in an intense and hard fought non-conference affair. The Cowboys are ranked No. 15 in the latest Associated Press poll.
"Big win tonight for the Hokies, big win," coach James Johnson said. "This team is playing hard. They're playing smart, they're having a lot of fun, but they're playing together. They're playing for each other."
Senior guard Erick Green led the Hokies in scoring and set a new career high with 28 while sophomore guard Robert Brown and junior forwards Cadarian Raines, and Jarell Eddie all scored in double figures. Virginia Tech out-rebounded a physically imposing Oklahoma State team 41-31.
"Hopefully we showed people that we can play with anybody and that we're a great team," Green said. "We just got to keep it going. Consistency is the key."
After the game, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford called Green one of the top five guards in the country.
Green picked up two fouls within the first three minutes, which limited him to just nine minutes of action. He still managed to lead the team with 10 points in the first half.
"With him out, it hurts our team but tonight we all stood together and played pretty well," Brown said.
Green came out firing to start the second half, connecting on two three pointers, a fade-away jumper, and two free throws to double his scoring output before the first media timeout. However, he was held scoreless from the 16:53 mark until he made two free throws in the final two minutes.
"I wanted to show everybody that I can play with the best," Green said.
Virginia Tech pushed the lead out to 58-50 with 9:16 left as the team traded punches and the referees got an earful from the Cassell Coliseum crowd.
The Cowboys rallied to within one at 60-59 with 5:37 to play before Johnson called a timeout to set up a frantic final five minutes.
The Hokies pushed the lead out to six with 31.3 seconds to go before Eddie fouled Marcus Smart on a three pointer that gave the Cowboys a chance to pull within three. However, Oklahoma State freshman guard Marcus Smart made just two of three. Green and Eddie made the final six free throws to give the Hokies the ten point margin of victory.
"I can't say enough about those guys over there in that locker room," Johnson said. "They've been doing a great job since day one and they did it again tonight."
Next up for the Hokies is a big road test at West Virginia on Saturday, December 8th.