UNC-Greensboro rallies to win

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BLACKSBURG, Va. -- UNC-Greensboro gave Virginia Tech all it could handle last year but still came up a bit short.

Forwards Kayel Locke and Kyle Cain made sure that did not happen twice in a row.

Thanks to a furious rally in the final minutes, UNC-Greensboro (7-7) overcame an 11-point deficit in the final minutes to beat Virginia Tech 55-52 on Saturday in Cassell Coliseum.

The Spartans were previously 1-50 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. The last time Greensboro beat an ACC team was 2007 against Georgia Tech.

Spartans coach Wes Miller, a former guard for North Carolina, understands the magnitude of beating an ACC opponent.

"I'm just really proud of my group," Miller said. "I thought the game was about to slip away from us, and they dug down and got some big stops and made some plays. These are the type of wins that are big for programs like ours that are trying to rise up with a bunch of young kids. ... It was a big win for us to beat an ACC school."

The Hokies built a seemingly insurmountable 11-point lead late in the second half. But Greensboro went on a 16-5 run in the final 5:30 to stun the home crowd.

Locke scored seven points in the final 3:21, and a pair of center RJ White free throws sealed the win, Greensboro's first ever in the series.

Cain, a transfer from Arizona State, led the Spartans with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

"We've been fighting through adversity all year," Cain said. "Our coaches do a good job of making our practices tough. This was a good win for us."

Virginia Tech forward Jarell Eddie, the ACC's sixth-leading scorer coming into the game, finished with four points on 1-for-12 shooting. The senior missed his first nine shots from the floor and was held scoreless in the first half.

Considering Eddie's stats through 11 games, the supporting cast was obliged to pick up the slack.

Freshman guard Ben Emelogu paced the Hokies with 11 points and five rebounds.

Center Joey Van Zegeren and forward Marshall Wood anchored the frontcourt, combining for 25 points and 12 rebounds.

Coach James Johnson's team entered Saturday with a startling lack of depth in the backcourt.

Virginia Tech (7-5) announced on Friday that junior guard Marquis Rankin had permanently left the program. Rankin had yet to dress in a game this season, citing personal issues as the reason for his absence.

Tech also played without guard Adam Smith, who continues to nurse a nagging calf injury that has hampered him throughout the season. Smith is averaging 13.1 points per game.

Prior to the season, the NCAA ruled guard Malik Mueller ineligible for the season. That left Freshman Devin Wilson as the only point guard on the roster. Wilson, averaging 33 minutes per game, gave the Hokies seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.

"It's frustrating," Johnson said. "We've got to play with what we've got. But I do think our depth is catching up with us down the stretch. But that can't be an excuse. We've got to play better."

Despite the win, Greensboro struggled to find offense all afternoon, shooting an abysmal 36.5 percent from the floor.

"We got enough stops where we should have been able to win the game," Johnson said. "It was just sloppiness."

Forwards Nicholas Paulos and Tyrone Outlaw each added six points for the Spartans.

Notes: UNC-Greensboro won the game without their second leading scorer, G Tevon Saddler, due to a foot injury. ... Virginia Tech entered the game shooting 44 percent from 3-point range, leading the nation in that category. ... UNC-Greensboro hosts North Carolina State on Monday. ... Virginia Tech hosts Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday.

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