By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Virginia Tech has dominated the Commonwealth Cup football series with its rivals from the University of Virginia.
It’s been more of an even affair on the basketball court, at least in recent seasons.
Virginia Tech (11-6, 2-2) will play the first of its two games this season with the Cavaliers (12-5, 2-2) tonight at Cassell Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.
Both teams enter this contest in a six-way tie for third place in the ACC, trailing surprising Miami (4-0 ACC), Duke (3-1) and N.C. State (4-2).
This will be the 136th meeting between the two schools, with Virginia leading the series 82-53. Virginia Tech is 6-4 in the last 10 games, although Virginia has won three of five, including the last two in Blacksburg.
Nine of the last 10 games in the series have been decided by seven points or less.
Erick Green (4.4 ast, 82.5 free throw percentage) continues to lead Virginia Tech and the nation with 24.6 points per game, tallying 22 in the Hokies’ 66-65 win over Wake Forest last Saturday.
Jarell Eddie (14.5 ppg, 6.6 reb) added 18 points in that game, while Cadarian Raines (6.8 ppg, 6.9 reb) was a dominant presence with 13 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists.
Virginia Tech is scoring 75.5 points a game, but are allowing 74.1 a contest.
Green, who has scored at least 20 points in 16 of the Hokies’ 17 games this season, has been selected as a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the top point guard in the nation. He was also named to the John Wooden Award’s Midseason Top 25, which is given to the nation’s best player.
The Hokies, who are 8-2 at home this year, started the season with a 7-0 record, but then dropped six of eight before winning two straight, including an overtime affair at Georgia Tech on Jan. 12 and the one-point win over the Deacons on a Robert Brown (10.2 ppg) basket at the buzzer a week later.
Virginia snapped a two-game losing skid with a stellar defensive performance in a 56-36 win over Florida State last Saturday. The Cavaliers are ranked in the top six nationally in six defensive categories, including second in scoring defense (50.6 ppg).
Joe Harris (15.2 ppg) and Akil Mitchell (12.3 ppg, 9.1 reb) lead the Cavaliers. Harris is second in the ACC in three-point accuracy (46.3), while Mitchell ranks fourth in rebounding in the league.
Jontel Evans is distributing 3.7 assists a contest. Evan Nolte (6.4 ppg) and Mike Tobey (6.1 ppg) will also see the court for the Cavaliers, who are scoring 62.1 points a game.
Tony Bennett is in his third season at Virginia, while James Johnson is in his first at Virginia Tech.
•Other college games in the region tonight include:
Bluefield College will host Campbellsville in a Mid-South Conference twinbill tonight. The Lady Rams (12-6, 5-5) will face the Tigers (15-4, 8-2), who are in second place in the MSC and ranked ninth in the nation among NAIA Division 1 clubs. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.
The Lady Rams have lost three of four after starting 11-3. Bluefield has been led by Teqa McNeal (17.6 ppg, 5.5 reb, 2.7 stls), Ashley White (16.4 ppg, 4.2 ast), Janee Simmons (11.2 ppg, 8.6 reb) and Monique Robson (10.3 ppg).
The Bluefield College men (6-12, 2-8), who are still looking for their first win in 2013, will play the Tigers (11-7, 5-5) at 8 p.m. The Rams are 0-6 this month, and have lost eight straight MSC games. Byron Carpenter leads Bluefield in scoring (21.7) and rebounding (6.4). Kearston Marion (17.2 ppg, 2.3 ast) is also a key contributor for the Rams.
Bluefield State will play a doubleheader at Glenville State.
The much-improved Lady Blues (10-5, 8-4) reverted back to past troubles in a lopsided 53-31 loss at Alderson-Broaddus last Saturday, and will face the Pioneers (14-2, 10-1), who are in first place in the West Virginia Conference.
Charlene Diggs (13.7 ppg) and Charity Harris (11.7 ppg) will face a daunting challenge tonight, with the Pioneers, who are scoring 96.5 points a game, having won eight in a row.
The Bluefield State (0-15, 0-11) men’s program will try to end a 40-game losing streak dating back to November of 2011 against the Pioneers (8-6, 4-5).
Vincent Rogers leads the Big Blues, scoring 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds a contest. Roy Cooper, who returned to the Bluefield State program this semester, is scoring 11.0 points a game. Treon Claiborne is contributing 8.2 points and 6.4 boards.