Virginia Tech 59, Oklahoma St. 57
Virginia Tech was facing what was almost a must-win game in late
The Hokies had lost to No. 5 Syracuse in the semifinals of the
NIT Season Tip-Off and were trying to hold on for a win in the
third-place game over Oklahoma State.
”This time of the year it’s really just about trying to develop
an identity,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. ”We had
three freshmen – two or three freshmen on the court at the same
time. Finding a way to win this game with that young a team and
getting them to better understand how to play hard right now –
that’s the process we’re going through.”
Erick Green scored 18 points and Virginia Tech, despite not
making a field goal over the final 6 1/2 minutes, beat Oklahoma
State 59-57 on Friday.
The Hokies (4-1) went 10 of 17 from the free throw line over the
final 6:01 to hold off the Cowboys (3-2), who got within two points
”I’m proud of the team and how hard we worked,” said Green, a
junior. ”The hard work has paid off. We still have a lot of work
to do but I’m really proud of the guys.”
Dorian Finney-Smith, who finished with 10 points and 14
rebounds, hit a 3-pointer with 6:49 to play to give Virginia Tech a
49-40 lead. Two free throws by Jarell Eddie kept the Hokies up
53-44 with 5:27 left. Oklahoma State scored the next seven points
to get within 53-51 with 3:37 left on a drive by Jean-Paul Olukemi.
The other time the Cowboys got within two was the final margin on a
3-pointer by Keiton Page with 1.4 seconds left.
Markel Brown had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State,
while Olukemi had 13 points and Page added 11.
”We just went out and played hard,” Brown said of the
comeback. ”Got back in the game, did the things that we needed to
do right, defensive transition and cutting down turnovers.”
Virginia Tech, which lost 69-58 to No. 5 Syracuse in the
semifinals, took the lead for good with a 14-0 run that gave the
Hokies a 21-12 lead with 6:40 left in the first half. The Cowboys
went 5:57 without a point, missing two shots and committing four
turnovers in the span.
Virginia Tech finished with a 45-37 rebound advantage.
”It was huge, getting to the glass,” Greenberg said. ”We
spent a full week talking about pursuing the ball preparing for
Syracuse. … It was physical and long and the keyword was make a
hit and pursue the ball.”
The Hokies, who led 32-23 at halftime, are 7-2 at Madison Square
Garden since Greenberg became coach in 2003.
”Thanksgiving parade is great. There’s nothing better than
Madison Square Garden,” Greenberg said. ”But going home 0-2, that
would have been tough. Now we have a chance to build on it.”
Oklahoma State, which lost 82-67 to Stanford in the semifinals,
won this tournament in 1991.
”I saw much better body language from our team tonight,”
Cowboys coach Travis Ford said. ”I saw a much better effort. We
played to win rather than play not to lose. We competed much better
today than we did our last time out. So that’s a step in the right
These teams play a regularly scheduled game in Stillwater,
Okla., on Dec. 31.
”It’s almost like having a 13th team in the conference,”
Greenberg said laughing.