BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Robert Brown came off the bench to score all 12 of his points in the second half to lead Virginia Tech past cold-shooting East Tennessee State 64-53 in the season opener for both teams.
The Hokies, who overcame poor shooting of their own, won their ninth consecutive opener under head coach Seth Greenberg despite an opening-game roster that included just two seniors.
"You look around the country and you see what happened to UCLA yesterday (a loss to Loyola Marymount)," Virginia Tech's Greenberg said. "You see Belmont (a one-point loss at Duke), who is picked ahead of these guys (ETSU) in their league (the Atlantic Sun Conference).
"This time of the year is not about where you are. It's about where you're going. You just want to find a way to get through these things and find a way to win. That's why I'm proud of our guys. We found a way to win."
The Hokies, who used a 9-0 run to lead 24-21 at halftime, made it 37-28 on a basket by Victor Davila. After the Buccaneers cut it to 40-36, Brown connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give Tech a 46-36 lead. ETSU again got within four points, at 55-51 with 1:49 remaining, but Brown sank two free throws with 1:16 to go.
After a Buccaneers turnover, Ty Garland hit two free throws with 1:04 remaining for Tech. ETSU got no closer than six the rest of the way.
"My butterflies finally went away, and I got comfortable," Brown said. "Then the shots started falling. My teammates did a good job of finding me when I got hot.
"Coach (Greenberg) told me to stay aggressive and keep shooting, even after I missed my first three in the first half. In the second half, he told me, if I had an open shot, to be confident and shoot it, and I did and they started to fall."
Garland, a sophomore making his first career start in place of injured point guard Erick Green (strained Achilles), led the Hokies with 13 points. He dished out three assists, but also had seven of Tech's 15 turnovers in a career-high 24 minutes -- five of those coming in the first half.
"I just wanted to get this win," Garland said. "I just wanted to go out there and play my role. I was a little nervous in the beginning, but as the game went on, I got a good feel for it.
"This was my first time playing the point since my 10th-grade year, so it was different. But I got used to it as the game went on."
Dorian Finney-Smith added 10 points, 16 rebounds and five assists for Tech, which shot just 39.6 percent from the floor (19 of 48).