BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — C.J. Barksdale and Devin Wilson were all smiles, and remarkable circumstances got them there.
Both scored 12 points Saturday, Barksdale after missing four games with a groin injury, and Wilson getting all of his in the final 3:37, and Virginia Tech ended a 10-game losing streak with a 52-45 victory against Miami.
The Hokies' first victory since New Year's Eve also came after the team missed three days of practice because a snowstorm that dropped as many as 23 inches in town closed school. Per school policy, practices were out, too.
The players did manage a player-organized workout Thursday, and got the big payoff on their home floor.
"It feels great," Wilson said. "You see everyone in here with smiles and chest-bumping and everything," Wilson said. "That's what you want to see after games. You want to be happy."
Wilson, who also had nine assists, came up with a huge rebound for the Hokies (9-15, 2-10 Atlantic Coast Conference), who hadn't won since beating Maryland-Eastern Shore on New Year's Eve. It came with about 30 seconds left and the Hokies ahead 50-45 off a missed 3-point try by Miami's Rion Brown. He was fouled, made two free throws and the drought was over.
For Barksdale, the layoff might have helped. He said he wasn't sure of his status until Saturday, when the Hokies met for a film session in the morning, a shootaround after lunch and then reported for their first game in a week.
"It hurt a lot not being out there with my teammates, not traveling and stuff" he said.
But once he checked into the game, he made a driving move to the lane, then added a 3-pointer.
"Once I hit those I was like, maybe I've still got it a little bit," he said.
Miami (12-13, 3-9), which also lost 61-60 to the Hokies in overtime on their home floor in early December, got 13 points from Garrius Adams and Brown added 12 and 10 rebounds. Miami, however, made just 15 of 58 shots from the field (25.9 percent) and missed eight of their first 10 free throws before finishing 8-for-17 at the line.
"When you shoot 25 percent from the field, 20 percent from 3, and 47 percent from the foul line, you're not making any shots, it's very, very hard to win," coach Jim Larranaga said. "Our guys did a good job of getting it close."
The Hokies led almost throughout, never letting Miami closer than three in the second half. That came on Adams' three-point play with 5:05 left, but Hokies scoring leader Jarell Eddie, who managed just seven points, followed a with a 3-pointer, one of only two baskets in the game for him, and Wilson took over in the closing minutes."
"They started playing more man so I was able to get to the lane a little more," he said.
Miami made only 5 of 27 shots in the first, then missed 10 of its first 11 shots in the second half. But when Erik Swoope scored on a drive with 10:45 to play, it started a string of four consecutive makes for the Hurricanes, the last a 3-pointer by Brown that pulled them within 32-27 with 8:49 left.
Barksdale, questionable because of a strained groin, scored seven points in an early 14-1 burst for the Hokies as Miami missed 11 straight shot and went nearly eight minutes without a point. The run put Virginia Tech in front 17-5, but the Hokies went more than eight minutes without a point themselves, but Miami managed only seven points in that span.
When Trevor Thompson scored on a put-back for the Hokies with 55 seconds left, it was the first basket for the home team in its last nine shots and made the score 19-15.
James Kelly's second 3 for Miami made it 19-15 at the half.