BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Jarell Eddie scored 17 points to lead Virginia Tech 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.
"We definitely wanted to get off on a good start," Eddie said. "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), which played at Oregon on Wednesday and flew across the country on Thursday, 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.
"I don't want to use that as an excuse," Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter said of his team's cross-country 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.