It wasn’t pretty, but Virginia Tech fought back from a halftime deficit and held on against Georgia Tech in Wednesday’s 62-58 win.
Trailing by four after making 33% of their shots in the first half, the Hokies rebounded, outscoring the Yellow Jackets by eight and shooting a 45% clip in the second. They finished 39% from the floor and 25% (6-of-24) from three, but it was good enough to get the job done in Atlanta.
“We came to somebody, I don’t know who it was or what it was at halftime,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “Let’s just say my mom wouldn’t be real proud of the message I sent to my team. I thought we were soft, I thought we were looking for easy, and that is unacceptable here in late February with four league games remaining, including tonight.
“Right back they come in the second half, thought they fought. Held Usher scoreless – they need for Usher to score for them. Thought that was quite impressive, thought we did a much better job on the glass.”
Indeed, containing Usher, who had 11 first half points, was huge. He did not score in the second half, while Michael Devoe led the way with 18. Outside of that duo, Georgia Tech (11-17, 4-13 ACC) was 11-of-29 (37%).
Offensively, Virginia Tech (17-11, 9-8) found more of a groove in the second half, courtesy of a 13-2 run. Darius Maddox had ten points in a row off the bench, and he really gave the Hokies a spark.
He finished with 12 points, tied for the team-high with Keve Aluma (10 rebounds, fifth double-double of the year) and Nahiem Alleyne. But he also led a strong effort from the bench, which scored 25 points (to Georgia Tech’s 13).
Sean Pedulla (seven points) and David N’Guessan (six) combined for 13, and it’s just the fourth time this season in ACC play that Mike Young & Co. have had more than 20 points off the bench. The other three instances: vs. Miami (L), at Florida State (W), vs. Pitt (W).
“Enormous,” Young said of Maddox’s performance. “Man, he looked so comfortable picking his spots. Very confident. Got in the air and got shots down. Darius Maddox was very good defensively as well. David N’Guessan helped our team. [Sean] Pedulla’s one of those freshmen. … He makes a bad play but that son of a gun comes back and makes two or three really good plays.”
While Josh Pastner’s stingy 1-3-1 zone forced 13 VT turnovers, it was good defense by the Hokies on the other end of the floor that really turned the game around. Maddox and Alleyne mentioned the team’s aggressiveness and playing like the veteran group they are, and that really showed.
“Second half, we picked it up on defense,” Alleyne said. “Got a couple of stops consecutively. I thought we deflected more and talked more and did things like that, and that helped us out.
“We know that we’re an old team, so we have to start acting like it, start being aggressive in the first half. I thought we were lackadaisical in the first half, but second half, we picked it up and started acting like the Virginia Tech Hokies that we are.”
Crashing the glass was crucial, and VT did well in that area. It’s the first time in four games that Virginia Tech has won the rebounding battle (+8 at GT), and the 15 offensive boards are the most in a game this season.
Three players – Aluma, Mutts and Pedulla – each had three, while the team had four as a whole.
Now, the attention turns to Miami, who the Hokies lost to on a half-court buzzer beater back on Jan. 26. It’s a Quadrant 1 opportunity for Virginia Tech, desperately needs a resume-building victory. The Hokies are still on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament and need to continue to win to get in.
As far as the ACC Tournament goes, Tech is now is tied with Syracuse for seventh in the ACC standings. Thanks to its win back on Feb. 12, VT has the tiebreaker, so if the season ended today, it would be the No. 7 seed in Brooklyn.
The rematch with the Hurricanes should be down to the wire. Two of the last four games have been decided in overtime, including last year’s contest in Coral Gables. Miami is hot, having blown out Pittsburgh by 21, 85-64, on Tuesday. The Canes sit in a tie for third in the ACC with North Carolina, and they’ve won four of their last five games.
“Man, they’re having a good year, they’ve got a good team,” Young said. “Another pivotal game for us. Every game’s a Super Bowl at this point, and we know we’ve got a full load ahead of us, and we’re going to have to play our best ball if we expect to win.”
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Who cares about the photos? I don’t.
Didn’t watch game but box score indicates same results from Storm. One for something with a few assists and minimal free throws because he dribbles but doesn’t shoot…stick him on the bench and play Pedulla… need to reverse their playing time.
Not a big fan of using old pictures to attach to a current article about a game last night. This is not the first time you have done this.
While we all appreciate the article, waiting until the next day, in order to get current photos would be best. Otherwise using old photos is just misleading, appears premature, and just seems too “fake media’esque”.
Agreed. Get a better real-time image source, or wait.
The pictures included in the article are not from last nights game. VT wore orange and GT wore white last night. Other than that, great article as usual.
Yea, using old photos needs to stop.
Syracuse last three games: Duke, Miami, UNC. Not likely they’ll stay in 7th place.
Surprise teams just don’t press us from the start, We just fall apart when they do.
It takes a lot of energy to press on defense. Doubt that many teams have the depth to press for much of the game.
62 58 Final Score
18 12 From Three Point Shots
34 38 From Two Point Shots
10 08 From Free Throws
Biggest VT Lead: 13 (59-46)
Biggest GT Lead: 8 (28-20)
Last Tie (of 4): 41-41
Last Lead Change: VT 43, GT 41
It Was Over: VT 59, GT 46
The Hokies got back on track, with a key road win. A cold shooting start, improved in the last 20 minutes. A late Georgia Tech run fell just short. VT is now 17-11 on the season, and 9-8 in the ACC. Big Dance hopes are still alive, although there is much work left to do. One big obstacle will be getting a win against Louisville next Tuesday, which has not happened since 1990. The Hokies ended their road woes against FSU this year, so lets hope the Cardinals will also feel the sting of a broken streak! In the meantime, it’s off to Coral Gables on Saturday, for a rematch with Miami.
But Cattoor isn’t back on track and we will need him if we are to make a deep run..
Hard to say it was over when the score was 59-46 and the lead dwindled to 3. I understand they didn’t score 59 so at that point we had enough points, but the game was far from over at that point.
Come on Mike…Murphy has been killing us all year. Roll the dice with Maddox and Pedulla in Miami.
That’s a tough call. I agree that we may not have the luxury of letting whichever of our guards that is not shooting well to work his way into a groove. If someone misses three in a row on open looks, bring on the bench.
Miami is hot, having blown out Pittsburgh by 29, 85-64, on Tuesday.
They are not that hot. Only won by 21.
Let’s bring Miami back down to earth.
I meant 21, not 29. Thanks. Appreciate you reading.
We have to keep you on your toes!
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