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Hokies Go Wire-to-Wire Against Catamounts

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 BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - The Western Carolina men's basketball team has racked up some serious frequent flier miles and hotel rewards this week.

 Unfortunately, that has come at the expense of victories.

 Virginia Tech jumped on the road-weary Catamounts right from the opening tip, as Jarell Eddie scored 17 points to lead the Hokies to a 79-61 win over Western Carolina on Friday.

 

 The Hokies (2-1) led the entire way and had a 20-point halftime lead. Eddie scored 10 of his 17 in the first half for Virginia Tech, which shot 51.6 percent on 16-of-31 shooting in the first 20 minutes.

 "Coach had told us that they had played at Oregon two days ago," Eddie said. "We hit them in the mouth early. It's good to get off to a start that way and not have that slow start when we're down a few points. Being able to stop them from the get-go ... it really worked out for us.

 "That was the emphasis in the shoot-around (earlier Friday). The way to do that was to get early stops, and we were able to put together some consecutive stops. That was good for us, and then we were able to capitalize on offense."

 

 Western Carolina (2-2) left Tuesday to make a 2,700-mile trek to Eugene, Ore., to play Oregon on Wednesday night and then flew across the country Thursday to play the Hokies in Blacksburg on Friday. The Catamounts got on a bus following the game and headed to Lynchburg, Va., where they play a game Saturday against Liberty.

 

 The Catamounts also had played a home game against UNC Asheville on Monday, meaning they have played four games in six days.

 "We owed a return game to Liberty as part of the BracketBusters," Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter said. "Rather than make this long trip again, we decided to play back to back (Virginia Tech and Liberty). We didn't have Oregon in there originally.

 "I know Dana (Altman, Oregon's head coach) pretty well, and they had someone drop out at the last minute and we still had an opening. Of course, I had to fit their schedule, and they had that date set. It was a good trip for our guys. It was just tough.

 "If I gave you our travel schedule, it was brutal this week. But it was a good experience, too."

 Fatigue appeared to play a role against the Hokies. Western Carolina scored just three points in the first eight minutes - all on free throws. The Catamounts missed their first 11 shots and didn't hit a field goal until Justin Browning's basket with 10:31 left in the first half.

 The Catamounts shot just 22.2 percent on 6-of-27 shooting in the first half. They only made 32.8 percent (20 of 61) for the game, including 3-of-25 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

 "We talked about getting off to a good start, which is something we hadn't done in our first two games," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "I thought we did that tonight, and it started on the defensive end of the floor. We got stops. We got consecutive stops, and we were able to put the ball in the hole."

 "We were aware of their travel schedule, but it was more important for us to get off to a good start because of our starts the last couple of games."

 The Catamounts cut the lead to 53-43 on two free throws by Browning with 7:43 left, but got no closer. Virginia Tech's Trevor Thompson then hit two free throws, and after a turnover by Western Carolina's Brandon Boggs, the Hokies' Devin Wilson added two more free throws with 7:27 remaining to push the lead to 57-43. The Catamounts got no closer than 12 the rest of the game.

 James Sinclair led the Catamounts with 16 points. Trey Sumler, who scored 29 points in the Catamounts' loss at Oregon, finished with 11 on just 5-of-14 shooting.

 "I don't want to use that (fatigue) as an excuse," Hunter said of the traveling. "I'm sure the kids are a little tired, and it's draining. But we just weren't very good in the first half. Let's be honest about it. We didn't shoot the ball very well, and we allowed that to frustrate us some. It really wasn't a pretty first half, but they were a little better than we were. At the end of the half, I thought they got a lot better, and they opened it up."

 The Hokies also got 16 points from Ben Emelogu, and Thompson added 15 and 11 rebounds. Emelogu, who made 5 of 9 from the floor, and Thompson, who hit 4 of 7, accounted for 31 of the Hokies' 40 bench points.