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For Hokies guard Bell, focus is paying off

Terrell Bell was in a slump.

The Virginia Tech guard wasn’t playing well in December and had trouble focusing during practice at that time. He thought about the troubles he had with his girlfriend and already felt worn down by the young season.

But that has all changed, and Bell has picked up his game as the Hokies (13-2, 1-1 ACC) prepare to face No. 25 Florida State (13-4, 1-2) on Saturday in Tallahassee.

“It’s actually a lot better,” Bell said of his mind-set. “And as you can tell on the court, I focus better when I don’t have to deal with all that non-sense.”

Bell was referring to his difficulties earlier in the year; he averaged 1.3 points and saw reduced minutes in a three-game stretch from Dec. 12 to 22. But Bell put on a startling performance in the Hokies’ win over No. 23 Miami on Wednesday night.

Bell tied a career-high with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and knocked down all three of his three-point attempts – and he did not attempt a shot in the second half. In 76 career games before Wednesday’s, Bell made 15 of 73 three-pointers and averaged 2.7 points.

When asked on Wednesday about his hot-shooting streak, he sounded as bemused as everyone else at Cassell Coliseum. “I can’t explain it,“ Bell said.

Bell also added eight rebounds and three blocked shots. It was his most complete and impressive performance of the season, and perhaps of his career.

Bell, a 6-foot-6 junior, is an athletic swingman with length and quickness. But before this year, he had only made two career starts. Hokies Coach Seth Greenberg said he wanted Bell to improve on his alertness and toughness, challenging him to fight through screens.

“It’s been a process of him understanding what I expect from him,” Greenberg said. “I think he’s really grown up, matured in the last two years.”

Bell has started every game this season for Virginia Tech. While he is not relied upon to be a scorer, Bell has played regular minutes (24.7 per game) and has been an asset defensively. Although he went through a stretch when he struggled, Bell said he has focused better and, in return, has felt more comfortable in his role.

“I look at the games we have left and how much more I can improve – I feel like the sky is the limit,” Bell said.

By Mark Viera  |  January 15, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
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