BLACKSBURG, Va. — Georgia Southern coach Charlton Young had spent more than a month mixing and matching players and juggling lineups in hopes of finding a group with a little bit of chemistry.
On Saturday, he found the perfect combination.
Behind C.J. Reed, who scored 16 of his team-high 22 points in the second half, Georgia Southern never trailed in stunning Virginia Tech 78-73 in the second round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.
The Eagles (4-5) jumped out to an 8-0 lead from the start and never looked back, notching their first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference team and their first over a team from a Bowl Championship Series league since 1992, when they knocked off South Carolina.
“To be honest with you, we’ve had some chemistry issues on our team,” Young said. “We’ve made some adjustments in terms of personnel. Guys have bought into their role.
“We were picked as one of the top teams in the Southern Conference from the beginning, but we lost two key pieces – one to academics and one in the summer. So we had two starters gone, we’ve got two reserves who are now starters, and we’ve got two guys who probably wouldn’t have been playing now just trying to get into the rotation. . We have some talent in our program. We’re just trying to come together, and tonight (Saturday), we did.”
The Eagles did so in large part because of some outstanding 3-point shooting. They hit a season-high 11 3-pointers in 26 attempts, with Reed, freshman guard Cleon Roberts and junior Eric Ferguson combining for all of them. They also outrebounded the Virginia Tech 41-38 and held the Hokies to just 39.7 percent shooting from the floor (27 of 68).
IONA 81, GEORGIA 78 (OT)
In Athens, Ga., reserve guard Curtis Dennis came off the bench cold and hit a 3-pointer from the corner to rally Iona past Georgia in overtime.
Georgia missed 9 of 15 free throws in overtime, including Nemanja Djurisic’s shot to tie the game at 79 with 3.5 seconds to play. He missed and Georgia fouled quickly, sending Sean Armand to the line for two free throws to account for the final margin.
Lamont Jones led Iona (4-4) with 25 points. Armand added 18 and A.J. English 17.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Charles Mann scored 18 apiece for Georgia (2-7). Donte Williams scored 16, and Brandon Morris 12.
Georgia freshman Kenny Gaines hit a jumper in the circle with 34 seconds left in overtime to put the Bulldogs up 76-75 despite the poor free-throw shooting. But Dennis made his only basket with 19 seconds to play, putting Iona up 78-76.
CLEMSON 80, FLORIDA A&M 57
In Clemson, S.C., freshman Jordan Roper ignited a second-half surge as Clemson rolled over Florida A&M.
Roper scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half. He hit 6 of 8 from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Clemson (6-3) hit 13 of its first 18 field goals in the half.
Adonis Filer contributed 14 points off the bench. Devin Booker had 12 points and K.J. McDaniels 11 for Clemson. Muhammad Abdul-Aleem scored 12 for the Rattlers (4-7), who saw their three-game winning streak end.