Hokies Hope to Dictate Tempo Against 'Hoos

Virginia coach Tony Bennett says there's a noticeable difference to the Virginia Tech basketball team this season.

"They're playing very fast this year," Bennett said earlier this week. "That's a change from years past, where they're really trying to get the ball in the open court and push, and score a lot of points. So you're going to have to be ready, like a lot of teams in our league, in terms of making them set up."

Bennett's Cavaliers visit the Hokies Thursday night in Blacksburg. It's the first meeting between the two in-state ACC rivals this season, which means it's the first time Virginia will face new Virginia Tech coach James Johnson.

The Hokies are averaging 75.5 points per game under Johnson, which was good for fourth in the ACC entering Wednesday night. On Thursday, they'll face the second-best scoring defense in the country -- Virginia is only allowing 50.6 points per game.

On Wednesday, Johnson and senior guard Erick Green -- the nation's leading scorer, averaging 24.6 points per game -- both talked about the importance of playing Thursday's game at the Hokies' higher pace.

"I think UVA's main thing is if they hold the ball for 30 seconds upper shot clock and get a nice shot they want and they don't really rush things," Green said. "They want it to be in a low type pace game and we've just got to get out and run, and hold them to a limited one shot."

"It's going to have to start on the defensive end," Johnson said. "We are going to have to try and get some stops and get out in transition and not face their set defense. They're a really good defensive team, and when we have to face all five guys on defense it's going to be a challenge for us."

Both teams enter Thursday's game a 2-2 after wins at home last Saturday. Virginia beat Florida State 56-36 in Charlottesville, while the Hokies beat Wake Forest 66-65 in Blacksburg.

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