A Little Bit Of Everything Helps Virginia Tech In 93-60 Win Over Cornell

Sean Pedulla had a career-high 11 points against Cornell on Wednesday. (Jon Fleming)

After an uncharacteristic performance against Wake Forest, Virginia Tech bounced back with a 93-60 victory over Cornell, in which it did a little bit of everything.

The Hokies (7-3, 0-1 ACC) hit their shots – 54% from the field, 52% from three – and rebounded well – 40-to-23 margin. They held the Big Red (8-2), who play at one of the fastest paces in the country, to 38.5% shooting and 60 points.

It was a nice way to get back on the right track, especially with a difficult stretch around the corner.

“I thought our team played a good ballgame,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “All nine guys in that top nine played well. Darius Maddox was outstanding, as was David N’Guessan. A real step in a positive direction on both sides of the ball.”

For the first time since December of 2016 (The Citadel), seven different Tech players scored in double figures. Keve Aluma led the way with 16 points, while Darius Maddox added 14. Nahiem Alleyne scored 13, Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla had 11 each, and David N’Guessan and Justyn Mutts dropped ten apiece.

Tech had 16 assists on 34 made baskets (almost 50%), but that doesn’t tell the full story. The Hokies moved the ball with pace, and unlike previous games where the rock seemed to sit too long in one place, it was all over the floor. Storm Murphy and Mutts each finished with four assists.

Ball movement is always important, but it was crucial when Cornell helped on the inside or doubled a player penetrating the lane. That created wide open looks and Virginia Tech took advantage, hitting a season-high 12 three-pointers.

“I thought we had rhythm shots,” Young said. “I thought Mutts was really, really good. … Good distribution. I thought Alleyne was really good. I thought the ball moved better. It didn’t stick. Our ball was sticking on Saturday against Wake Forest. [I’m] encouraged by that.”

Mike Young said Tech had “rhythm shots” against Cornell on Wednesday. The Hokies shot 54%. (Jon Fleming)

Defensively, Young & Co. did a solid job for 40 minutes against Cornell, a team that entered Wednesday averaging 90 points per contest. Tech only allowed the Big Red to make just ten field goals in each half and shut them down when it mattered most.

With 9:25 to play in the first half, Keller Boothby hit a three-pointer to bring the game within a point, 25-24. Cornell was on a quick 6-0 run and was hanging around.

In a flash, the Hokies buckled down and pulled away. From the 7:45-mark forward, it was all Virginia Tech as the team went on a 20-3 run over the next 6:39. The lead jumped from one to 18, and the Big Red were just 1-13 from the field over the course of that span.

Young praised his group’s connectivity, something that he didn’t see from Tech against Wake Forest.

“Just better attention to detail,” Young said on what his team did better defensively on Wednesday. “We looked… I don’t know what we looked like. We looked like garbage [vs. Wake Forest] is what we looked like. I’m responsible for that, but they’re smart people, they’re conscientious people and they responded very, very well on Monday, which was as good of a practice as we’ve had in a while.

“Tuesday’s practice, which was a lot of preparation for Cornell, was outstanding. We’ve got to continue to put those days together in the days ahead. … We do have Sunday at Dayton and Friday at Charlotte vs. St. Bonaventure, so we’ll have time to sharpen the saw [in between games], and this team needs it.”

Maddox and Pedulla each had a career night in points and minutes, and Maddox is a player that has grown into his own this season. He’s been averaging anywhere from 16-to-18 minutes per game but played 23 well-deserved minutes on Wednesday.

“Honestly, with me, it’s more just keeping my head,” Maddox said postgame. “After last year, it didn’t really go too well for me, and I could’ve gotten mad and transferred or had bad energy, but it’s me just being really confident in myself and the work I put in and confident in the coaches and knowing that the coaches are there for me.”

Maddox said not playing much in 2020-21 as a freshman was really important to his development because he got to take so much in. The biggest difference between him now and who he was last season: Confidence, a statement that’s been echoed by many players in the program.

Darius Maddox had a career night against the Big Red, posting 14 points in 23 minutes. (Jon Fleming)

“I came in my freshman year confident in my game, and working with coaches that summer and getting my body right, and just being more cohesive with what coach wants me to do in-game and in practice,” Maddox said. 

Maddox and Cattoor each hit four of their eight field goal attempts on the night, while Alleyne was 5-11. Aluma led the way with an efficient eight-of-nine. Tech hit eight of its 14 threes in the second half, too, and Pedulla, Cattoor and Alleyne all hit two of them in the final 20 minutes.

Now, the Hokies turn their attention to arguably the most difficult part of their stretch all season. Two non-conference games remain, a road test at Dayton (6-4) and a neutral site game vs. St. Bonaventure (8-1) in Charlotte. That’s before the ACC gets back underway, and Tech has a late-December gauntlet, playing at Duke (7-1) and at North Carolina (6-2, 1-0 ACC). 

These next four games will really test Virginia Tech’s ability to defend, as well as move the ball and play as a cohesive unit on the offensive end. All four foes match up size-wise or are lengthier, and Young’s crew will have to be ready.

Were the Hokies finally back to normal defensively vs. Cornell?

“Yeah, now let’s do it against somebody our own size, and that’s coming,” Young said. “I told them in the locker room, ‘let’s embrace hard, because what we’re about to encounter is hard, but that’s what we sign up for,’ and I know our coaching staff is excited for the road ahead.”

Box Score: Link

11 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I think we would be the best team in the Southern Conference. Not yet sure we are
    top half of ACC. Wake game was not encouraging. Winning the next two would make me feel better. But I’d we don’t win both having 4 non-conference losses dims our NCAA hopes. Would mean we need at least 12-8 in conference and we are already 0-1 at home.

  2. When Murphy gets his stroke and confidence back, we are gonna have 3 guards who really push each other and bring different skills to the table. Don’t count out Storm Murphy, but I like all of these PGs.

  3. Maddox does have a silky stroke, but can someone smarter than me tell me how his defense is? Seems adequate when watching, but does that mean he should be taking more minutes from Cattor or Alleyne? Imo we insert Maddox over Alleyne when he is having an off night.

    1. Surely not smarter than most to comment on Maddox’s D but from an O perspective, having him taking minutes from Alleyne, when he’s off, certainly should add depth.

  4. So now we see CMY’s rotation is eight players, with Ojiako being used as a situational substitute. IMO, Maddox and N’Guessan will become more important as the season goes on.

  5. Pedulla needs to start ahead of Murphy and Maddox needs to play more than 23 minutes with that shooting stroke. Go Hokies!

    1. I agree that Pedulla needs more minutes. He is more talented than Storm and just needs floor time. By the end of the season, he may be clocking more minutes than Storm. As to Maddox, absolutely he should come in early and probably split time with Cattoor and Alleyne. The flying Dutchman just needs minutes too. He gets a little out of control sometimes but he’s got real ups and handles the ball well out on the floor when he has to. He runs extremely well. I love it when Mutts and Aluma play their 2 man game. Sweet!

  6. Glad to see them back on track. Tough stretch ahead for a team that isn’t used to having such expectations.

    As a side note, does anyone else see #31 above and think that Alleyne is at the Y taking shots over Larry the forensic accountant?

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