BLACKSBURG — Blame it on Jarell Eddie.
Erick Green tied his career high with 25 points as the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team cruised to a 69-50 win over Rhode Island on Monday at Cassell Coliseum.
Green, Tech’s senior point guard, made a free throw with 5:55 to go to reach 25 points. But before he shot his second free throw, one of his teammates made a prediction.
“I had no idea I had 25 until I was at the foul line and Jarell said, ‘You’re going for 30,’ ” Green said. “I look up and I just lost my focus.”
Green promptly missed the second free throw, then went 0-for-2 the next time he went to the free-throw line. He also missed a 3-pointer, and never did get that 26th point.
Still, it was another good night for Green and rookie coach James Johnson’s Hokies (2-0). For the first time in his career, Green has scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games.
“I feel free,” said Green, who made four 3-pointers Monday. “Coach Johnson is letting me play. … He lets me play ball.”
When Rhode Island (0-2) went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 28-24 late in the first half, Green answered with back-to-back 3-pointers.
“He’s obviously one of the best point guards in the ACC, probably one of the better in the country,” URI coach Dan Hurley said.
Center Cadarian Raines had 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for the Hokies. He was 4-of-4 from the field. In Saturday’s opener, he was 3-of-9 from the field and snared just four rebounds,
“I made sure I played calm,” Raines said. “The first game, I think I was thinking too much. I was a little more jumpy.”
Tech was outrebounded in last weekend’s 80-62 win over East Tennessee State but was able to outrebound URI 42-37.
“Coach was mad at us” about the rebounding in the opener, Raines said. “We just want to make sure he’s happy. … We [were] more aggressive on the glass.”
Rhode Island also was outrebounded in a 67-55 home loss to Norfolk State on Friday.
On Monday, the Rams shot 33.9 percent from the field. They were 1-of-21 from 3-point range.
“We shot better tonight than we did in our opener,” Hurley, in his first season at URI, said with a laugh. “Their size, athleticism relative to where we’re at currently, I think that was a factor.”
Green was only somewhat satisfied with the Tech defense.
“We did a good job. I want to do a great job,” Green said. “When we play against the ACC, we’ve got to be able to be great.”
The Hokies shot 45.6 percent from the field. They had 18 fast-break points, twice as many as they had against ETSU.
“We want to push the ball up the floor,” Johnson said. “We want to take early shots in the possession that are good shots for us. And even if it’s not transition, we’re not going to get two-on-ones and three-on-twos all night, but I want to push the ball up the floor.
“I want to get early, quick, early shots in the possession that are good shots … and I can’t complain about that. Our shot selection and our unselfishness have been great.”
After the ETSU win, Johnson and the Hokies high-fived the student section. After Monday’s win, they made a full lap around the coliseum to high-five fans of all ages.
“It’s a new era and people are second-guessing us, but we just thank everybody for the support,” Green said.
Robert Brown had 12 points for the Hokies.