BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Shane Larkin knew all about Erick Green when he arrived at Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. Now Green knows all about Larkin, too.
Larkin scored 25 points and No. 14 Miami used a 13-2 second-half run to beat Virginia Tech 73-64 for its eighth consecutive victory.
“These are the funnest games, playing against the best players in the nation. Erick Green is definitely one of those guys,” said Larkin, who made five 3-pointers and had three steals.
Article continues below ...
“I love playing against the best players and when they’re doing good, I want to do just as well as them. Tonight was a great game for that. It was just fun.”
Larkin saved his biggest shot for the biggest spot, too.
After the Hokies closed to 60-56 with two minutes left, the sophomore calmly dribbled the clock down, then slipped behind a screen and swished a long 3 from the top of the key with 1:47 to play.
“The last one I hit was pretty deep. I didn’t really pay attention,” Larkin said of the basket that deflated the crowd hoping for a closing flurry by Green and the struggling Hokies. “I just saw the dude go under the screen and I just got my shot ready.”
“It’s always fun to shush a home crowd,” he said.
Kenny Kadji added 18 points and Trey McKinney-Jones had 12 for the Hurricanes (16-3, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who trailed by 12 in the first half before putting together a 22-6 burst spanning halftime. Larkin had half the points in the run.
“I think he took it upon himself that he has to play well,” Kadji said of Larkin. “He came out, he did everything for us. The first half, he kept us in the game and that last (3-pointer), that was a big one for us.”
Green, the nation’s leading scorer with a 25.2 average, led Virginia Tech (11-9, 2-5) with 30 points and Jarell Eddie had 14, but the rest of the Hokies struggled after a fast start. The loss was the seventh in the last nine games for Virginia Tech.
Trailing 28-16, the Hurricanes used their big run to grab a 38-34 lead with 16:43 left. Virginia Tech seemed on the brink of getting run out of its building, but Green hit three 3-pointers in under 2 minutes and the Hokies led again, 43-41.
With the crowd roaring, McKinney-Jones hit a long 3-pointer, and Larkin and Rion Brown followed with 3s after a bucket by Cadarian Raines for the Hokies. Two free throws by McKinney-Jones and a dunk by Kadji capped the 13-2 run, putting Miami back in control.
Virginia Tech made one last charge, but Larkin’s big 3 turned the Hokies away.
Green had lots of scoring help early on, but less as the game went on.
Robert Brown scored eight points, all in his first few minutes, but took just two more shots. Eddie did much of his scoring late, and half of the 10 Hokies that got on the court did not score, including two starters.
“Yeah, they need to look for their shots more. They’ve got to be more aggressive,” Green said of his teammates.
Brown agreed, and he came into the game having missed 30 of his last 38 shots.
“People that are supposed to make plays aren’t making plays,” he said.
Green and Brown each scored eight points during a 22-8 spurt that gave the Hokies a 28-16 lead with 5:57 left in the half, but a 3-pointer by Eddie and a free throw by Green was all Virginia Tech could manage the rest of the half.
Miami closed the first half with a 13-4 burst, including nine points from Larkin.