BLACKSBURG — VMI is no longer the only men’s basketball team in Western Virginia that doesn’t like to see the shot clock wind down.
Virginia Tech remained unbeaten with its new uptempo offense, cruising to a 95-80 win over VMI on Thursday at Cassell Coliseum.
Under rookie coach James Johnson, the Hokies (3-0) like to take shots early in the possession. They attempted 68 shots from the field Thursday, and 49 of those were launched in the first 15 seconds of the 35-second shot clock.
“He’s letting us free — free space,” said Erick Green, who had 23 points. “It’s like AAU a little bit, but it’s controlled. We’re getting out and running, everybody’s getting touches.
“There’s just a lot of spacing that people can work off of, … spreading the floor out.”
Green, who has topped 20 points in each of the three games this season, reached 1,000 career points Thursday. The senior now has 1,010 points.
“To see how far I came since my freshman year, it really means a lot,” Green said. “I would’ve never really thought I’d [get] this accomplishment. I’m proud.”
Former Hokies star Malcolm Delaney, as he watched the game via the Internet, joked on Twitter that he would have broken the school scoring mark in this offense.
Jarell Eddie, who had 17 points, said it is fun to play in Johnson’s offense.
“He tells us to take the first available good shot,” said Eddie, one of five Hokies who scored in double figures. “It helps guys play with confidence and you see a bigger basket when you shoot.
“It’s a lot more fun to get out and just show that you can play basketball and make plays. … He [doesn’t] want us to have to look for him to call a set every time down. Him trusting us enough to just make things happen on the court definitely makes us feel good.”
Delaney said on Twitter that this style of “more freedom might help this team out,” figuring that Tech might not be “real good in a strict set offense.”
“We’ve got guys that can run,” Green said. “We’ve got guys that can really go off the dribble and shoot the ball. This is a perfect offense for our team.”
VMI (1-3) has run an uptempo offense for a number of years under coach Duggar Baucom. The Keydets attempted 73 shots from the field Thursday, with 57 of those launched within the first 15 seconds of the shot clock.
The Hokies, who had 21 fast-break points, shot 52.9 percent from the field to VMI’s 41.1 percent.
“VMI, the way they play makes them a vulnerable team,” Johnson said. “We want to push the ball up and down the floor but … we want to defend. We didn’t want to get into a track meet.”
Johnson said his offense is different from VMI’s.
“We’re disciplined,” Johnson said. “We’re not just coming down, jacking shots. … But we’re also going to guard on the defensive end.”
VMI, which has yet to beat a Division I foe this season, shot 35.5 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 46-30 at halftime. VMI did not have an offensive rebound in the half.
“We couldn’t make a shot in the first half,” Baucom said. “We got a lot of open looks. We didn’t knock them down. But credit them, they’re long and they do a good job of contesting shots.
“The first half, they kept us off the offensive boards … so we were one shot and out.”
The Hokies led 88-57 with 5:18 to go. With the Tech starters out of the game, VMI went on a 16-0 run to cut the deficit to 88-73 with 2:31 left. Johnson then put his starters back in.
The Hokies shot 11-of-24 from 3-point range (45.8 percent) to VMI’s 8-of-37 (21.6 percent).
“Since they’re athletic, they can get out to our shooters very quickly,” said Rodney Glasgow, who had 13 points for VMI.
Tech walk-on Will Johnston was 3-of-6 from 3-point range. Freshman Marshall Wood had two 3-pointers after going 0-of-8 from 3-point range in the first two games combined.
The Hokies “made some unbelievable shots,” Baucom said. “Johnston’s barely on our scouting report and he goes 3-for-6.”
Tech outrebounded VMI 44-33. VMI center D.J. Covington scored 23 points but had no rebounds.
“I was more focused on trying to keep my man off the boards, trying to get tip-outs,” Covington said. “I should’ve definitely [done] way better on the rebounds.”
Tech forward C.J. Barksdale, who had a total of two points in the first two games, had 11 points. He said he was “thinking too much” in the first two games.
Cadarian Raines had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Hokies, with Robert Brown scoring 11 points. Stan Okoye had 13 points for VMI.