BLACKSBURG, Va. — Jarell Eddie missed his first two shots on Tuesday night, and he hardly missed anything else.
Virginia Tech’s senior swingman scored a career-high 34 points, making runners, fadeaways, 3-pointers and catch-and-shoot baseline jumpers. He also sparked two key runs as the Hokies finally dispatched pesky Winthrop 81-63 for their third consecutive victory.
“After I made one, I kind of got in a zone,” Eddie said after hitting 13 of 18 overall, and 6 of 8 3-pointers. “My teammates were finding me in real good areas and after that, I started feeling it and I just rolled that way. ... When you’re feeling it a little bit more than other nights, you can take a little crazier shots.”
Eddie’s array of jumpers included several that might not have qualified as good shots most nights, but coach James Johnson has no issues after going into the game with two of his better players sidelined. The Hokies played without guards Adam Smith (calf strain) and Ben Emelogu (concussion).
Johnson laughed at the suggestion the performance caused flashbacks to last year, when the Hokies’ Erick Green led the nation in scoring.
“He got in a zone and we went to him and he delivered,” Johnson said of Eddie, whose previous high was 28 points last season. “He made some nice plays. I didn’t think he forced anything. He was very efficient. That was a performance. That was a performance by him tonight.”
Winthrop was determined not to let happen, Eagles coach Pat Kelsey said.
“It doesn’t look like it, but he was the focal point of the scouting report,” Kelsey said, adding that he recruited Eddie. “He scared the bejeepers out of us on tape. ... I think the basket looked really, really big to that kid tonight. ... I think that’s probably a performance he’ll tell his grandkids about.”
Even so, the Hokies didn’t take command until late.
Eddie scored 20 points in the first half, including 17 straight for the Hokies (6-3) in one stretch, but Virginia didn’t pull away until a 20-7 run opened a 70-56 lead with 5 minutes remaining. It came after the Eagles closed to within 50-49 on a 3-pointer by Josh Davenport, quieting the crowd at Cassell Coliseum.
Devin Wilson started the run with a free throw and C.J. Barksdale hit an 18-footer. After Joab Jerome scored for Winthrop, Eddie hit a runner, then a 12-foot turnaround. He later added his second four-point play of the night, and he added seven rebounds, two assists and a steal in 37 minutes.
“Every time he shot the ball it seemed like it was going in,” Cadarian Raines said. “He was feeling it tonight and we needed it.”
Freshman Keon Johnson scored 15 points to lead the Eagles (5-2) and Jerome had 13.
Eddie’s hot night was critical for the Hokies, who shot 60.4 percent (29-48) but also turned the ball over 18 times. The sloppy play allowed the Eagles to stay close even after going scoreless for nearly 4:30 in one stretch of the second half. It was late in the Eagles’ scoring drought that the Hokies took command.
Eddie led a 21-7 spurt in the first half during in which he scored the first 14 points, capping his personal run of 17 straight Virginia Tech points.