Sean Pedulla, Hunter Cattoor Lead Hokies’ Historic Win At Florida State

Sean Pedulla showed out on Saturday in Tallahassee. (Jon Fleming)

Seven minutes into Saturday’s contest, Virginia Tech trailed Florida State by eight. The Hokies were 4-of-9 from the floor but just 1-of-5 from behind the arc, and they needed someone to spark a run.

Hello, Sean Pedulla.

In high school, he had a game where he made 10-of-12 field goals. Up until recently, that’s what the freshman from Edmond, Okla. would’ve described as his best shooting performance ever. That is, until he stepped foot in the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee.

Pedulla proceeded to drill three treys on three consecutive possessions in 1:27 to bring his team within one, forcing Leonard Hamilton and FSU to call timeout. He finished the half a perfect 5-for-5 from deep, and his presence kick-started Hunter Cattoor, who made three of his own (on five attempts) before intermission.

Tech was 9-of-14 (64.3%) from 3-point range through the first 20 minutes and led by eight, 39-31.

In the second half, it was Cattoor’s game, and the junior was a perfect 6-of-6 from behind the arc. The Hokies were lethal from long range as a collective unit – 18-of-25 (72.0%) – and held on down the stretch to snap a three-game losing streak, beating Florida State 85-72. It’s the program’s first win in Tallahassee since 1990.

Pedulla and Cattoor helped Virginia Tech take control of the game on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

“I think it speaks to him [Pedulla] as a human being and a character that he was bad [vs. Miami],” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said of Pedulla. “I alerted him to that a couple of times Thursday and Friday, but I have great faith in him, and he’s tough as a pine knot. He recognized he played poorly, but he recognized that he’s a major component in this club.”

Cattoor (27 pts) and Pedulla (20 pts) combined for 47 of Tech’s 85 points and hit 15 of their 18 3-point attempts. Per college basketball reference, they are the only pair of teammates in the last decade to shoot a combined 80% from three on at least 18 attempts in a single game.

Their play was crucial in a game that Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts were not their usual selves. Both bigs dealt with foul trouble, and Aluma finished the game with four personals. Mutts only had three and played more, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists, but there were stretches of the game where the Hokies (11-10, 3-7 ACC) had to fend without both of them.

That, along with Florida State (13-7, 6-4 ACC) struggling to cover Tech’s shooters (and just refusing to close out on certain instances), opened the door for an excellent night from downtown for the Hokies.

They set a new program record for most treys in an ACC game (18) and for the highest 3-point field goal percentage in a league contest (72%). Cattoor also tied Justin Robinson’s record for the most triples in a single game with nine.

Combine that with six points off the bench from Darius Maddox (1-2 3FG), who had three steals, and six points from David N’Guessan, and Tech accounted for Aluma and Mutts not being themselves.

“A great sign as we head to the second half [of ACC play] where Aluma doesn’t have his best stuff,” Young said. “We typically get 25 from that bunch, but we’ve got other people picking up their wagon and making winning plays.

“We’re not going to make 18 threes night-in and night-out, but continuing to get good play and smart, intelligent play from Sean [Pedulla] and Darius [Maddox] and those guys is a real shot in the arm for our club.”

In the first eight conference games, Young & Co. only had more than 10 points off the bench once (17 at NC State). In the last two contests vs. Miami and at Florida State, they’ve received 55 points off the bench. 23 against the Canes, 32 in Tallahassee.

“I’d say the last three or four games, we’ve definitely picked up some of the slack that we had earlier on in the year,” Pedulla said afterwards. “Other than last game, I didn’t think I played my best, but just the ‘next game’ mentality. … I just focused on this game, did what I could to get a win.”

To get that third league victory, Tech locked in defensively. Yes, the Seminoles shot 50%, but they turned the ball over 14 times. 42 of their 72 points also came in the paint, and 15 were product of the free throw line. But FSU made just 5-of-13 3-point attempts (38.5%), and the Hokies kept them on their heels.

Tech’s defense complemented its 3-point shooting very well. (Ivan Morozov)

“Constant tweaks throughout the ball game, and we finally got to something,” Young said. “I don’t like to do it, I hate it, going under the ball screen. You don’t want to go under two, you want to go under one. So we’re going to pop back. Now we can muddy that up, for lack of a better expression, and Aluma, Mutts, whoever is guarding the big rolling to the basket, we can manipulate that a little bit.”

The Seminoles were missing a few key pieces. Caleb Mills played just three minutes, Malik Osborne was out due to an ankle injury, and RayQuan Evans was not available.

Still, Hamilton’s bunch gave Tech fits. Anthony Polite led the way with 17 points and six boards, while Naheem McLeod added 15 and Matthew Cleveland had 10.

However, it wasn’t enough to overcome Tech’s hot shooting, particularly in the second half. A 14-0 run by the Hokies over 2:24 (7:03-4:39) pushed the game out of reach for Florida State, pushing the lead to 16. From there, it was all VT, who got a much-needed win.

The victory is Tech’s first this season in Quadrant 1, and it’s a confidence boost ahead of what one might consider an “easier” part of the team’s schedule.

A home game against Georgia Tech (No. 145 in NET) awaits on Wednesday before two clashes with Pitt (No. 191). Then, it’s a three-game home stand with Syracuse (No. 104) and two teams Virginia Tech almost beat in January: Virginia and North Carolina.

Will Young’s crew be able to keep the momentum going? Only time will tell, but every good win streak starts somewhere.

Box Score: Link

19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. We have got to find a way to win without hitting 17 of our last 20 threes. Encouraged by Pedulla though.

  2. Pedulla changed the game and gave a shot of juice to the entire team. It wasn’t the 3s although they were nice. He plays fearlessly. Drives the lane, draws defenders to him, dumps it out for good shots…he is creating out there and everyone benefited from it last night. His energy and “go for it” attitude definitely rubbed off on the players.

    1. Remember Les Henson in 1980. It was in Tallahassee, but watching it in Lee Hall, when that shot went in, pandemonium on the floor.

  3. The answer is 10 games but realistically 5 would be awesome. We beat FSU in their house on September 6, 2018. how soon i forget. Go hokies!

  4. Go hokies! Great game. i did not know that we had not won since 1990 in their house. I wonder if we have ever beat FSU in their house in football. A now deceased hokie/statistics professor told me a story about seeing a game in Blacksburg before lane stadium when the hokies beat FSU and Fred Bilitnakof. how many games can we win before the end of the season?

    1. I believe Fred had something like 12 catches in tha game. That was my first game n Blacksburg. I remember it well. Tech had the game on ice. FSU scored a garbage time TD. Bilitnakopf caught a pass for he 2 point conversion, then wheeled around and threw the ball over the grandstand.

  5. Good away win. A good week, women crush the ‘hoos and the men beat the ‘noles. All is right in the world.
    GO HOKIES!!!

  6. Great team win, good to see production from the bench – they will be needed down the stretch (actually they were needed all season). Just curious, why all the Miami photos?

    1. FSU photos from the athletic department weren’t uploaded yet, or else I would’ve used those.

  7. Game Summary:

    VT FSU
    85 72 Final Score
    54 15 From Three Point Shots
    28 42 From Two Point Shots
    03 15 From Free Throws

    Biggest VT Lead: 18 (85-67)
    Biggest FSU Lead: 8 (17-9)
    Last Tie (of 4): 25-25
    Last Lead Change: VT 55, FSU 54
    It Was Over: VT 73, FSU 60

    Tom Brady is expected to formally announce his retirement soon. But the big news for Hokie fans this afternoon, was the retirement of a 32 year drought in Tallahassee, where Tech had not won since 1990. To put this in time capsule perspective, Frank Beamer’s 4th season in Blacksburg that same calendar year, ended with a 6-5 record (his second consecutive winning season with the Hokies), wrapping up in the last game, with a crushing of former No. 1 UVA.

    The Hokies did not need to hit a miracle shot game winner, like Les Henson’s court length two pointer did at Florida State in 1980 (At that time, the three point shot was not part of college basketball). Tech scorched the nets today, shooting over 61% overall, and an unbelievable 72% from three! Hunter Cattoor (9 triples) and Sean Pedulla (6 three pointers) were unconscious, going a combined 15 of 18 from downtown!

    Boy, was this needed! It felt like the Hokies were due. I guess so. I just wish we could keep some of the extra points, for our next game! By the way – today’s victory kept alive Mike Young’s streak here in Blacksburg, of never at any point, having a losing record during a season! The 11-10, 3-7 Hokies hope this convincing road beatdown of Florida State, will catapult them forward the rest of the way!

    1. Up until today (recovering from Will Flu) I saw every dang one of those losses since 1990. Matter of fact I’ve seen VT at FSU bb every game dating back to 1984.

      Lots of Metro Conference high octane battles- del Curry, Bimbo all of it. Wins at FSU have always been like rare gems for us second only to Louisville and Denny Crumb🏀🏀🏀

      1. Crumb, lol… thanks for the history, tallahasseehokie. Of course, crumby had nothing on Patino…

        1. In the mid-80’s, I think it was FSU’s Pee-Wee Barber that made a half court shot to knock us out out the Metro Conf tournament (first round probably). He shot it before the buzzer but totally charged the VT defender who was standing still at half court. Back then, they allowed shots to count if the charge happened after ball released. But they would still give a foul to the shooter. If they had called the after shot charge AND I’ve got my facts straight, what would the refs done? Put the VT defender on the line for the win w zero time on clock?

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