Virginia Tech’s Magical Run Comes To An End In Milwaukee vs. Texas

Virginia Tech’s rollercoaster of a season came to an end vs. Texas in Milwaukee. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

As beautiful and spontaneous as the rise from 10-10 (2-7 ACC) to ACC Tournament Champions was, the road came to an end for No. 11 seed Virginia Tech on Friday afternoon in Milwaukee vs. No. 6 seed Texas.

After the Hokies were on an emotional high over the last month, the Longhorns put their foot down and broke up the party, winning 81-73 in Fiserv Forum and ending Tech’s season.

“Longhorns outplayed us, needless to say,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said after the loss. “They were better than we were this afternoon.”

“I think we just beat one of the best teams in the tournament,” Texas head coach Chris Beard said. “To hold that team to four made 3-point shots was really where our defense was on point.”

On Thursday, Beard said his team was centered around the play on that end of the floor, and he wasn’t lying. That aspect showed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia Tech turned the ball over 13 times, the 13th such occurrence this season. Nine of the giveaways came in the second half, including three each from Justyn Mutts and Storm Murphy.

The best defensive team the Hokies saw in 2021-22, Texas ran them off the 3-point arc, allowing a season-low four makes from deep, and never allowed them to find a rhythm.

“They were taking away easy catches on the top of the key,” Hunter Cattoor said afterwards. “Whenever we came down the screen, they were topping it, not letting us come off easily and so it forced us to get to the basket and get two. And so they were just going to live with that.”

Indeed, Texas played that dangerous game, and boy, did it work. The gameplan, which Beard described as three-fold, started with having a good day against Tech’s 3-point shooting.

“Fortunate for us, that’s where the game was [won] by us,” he said.”

Physicality was an important part in Friday’s game. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Offensively, Tech parked Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts on the interior, while Cattoor and other shooters roamed behind the arc, not an easy combination for a defense. Texas picked its poison, to which Young alluded. And it was like the Grail Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade turned to Beard and said, “You have chosen wisely.”

The Longhorns were physical and blew up everything, taking Virginia Tech out of rhythm. Open looks did not come easy, and the Hokies didn’t make some crucial attempts they received. Pedulla was the lone player with multiple baskets from distance (3-of-6), while Cattoor’s make came in the final 45 seconds.

Tech’s frontcourt of Aluma and Mutts combined for 24 points on 10-of-15 from the floor while Cattoor added 12 points. Sean Pedulla led the Hokies with a team-high 19 points off the bench, ten of which came at the free throw line.

But to go along with the stingy defensive effort, Texas also had one of its best offensive performances of the season.

The Longhorns dropped 81 points, the most Tech allowed all year, and shot 52.5% from deep, their second-highest mark of the 2021-22 campaign. The high, 59%, came in their season-opener on Nov. 9 vs. Houston Baptist.

It was all Andrew Jones in the first half, who scored a game-high 21 points. 17 of those came in the opening stage, where he was 5-of-6 from behind the arc. The scorer of six of Texas’s 11 field goals, Jones singlehandedly kept the Longhorns in the game.

The script flipped in the second half when the other four starters – Timmy Allen, Christian Bishop, Marcus Carr and Courtney Ramey – all scored nine-plus points. Bishop was the headliner with 11, while Carr and Ramey added ten each.

Out of the break, Texas shot 64% from the floor, made three of its six attempts from 3-point range and slowly pulled away. Virginia Tech never led after intermission.

Texas slowly pulled away in the second half thanks to good play on both ends of the floor. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

This is the same Texas team that entered the Big Dance shooting 32.3% from long range, good for No. 243 in D-I. Combine that with the Hokies’ season-low makes from three and it just wasn’t Virginia Tech’s night in Milwaukee.

“You know, the basketball gods,” Young said. “It’s not a very good shooting team. They’re very, very, good, all right? You know, Big 12 and so on. But combination of good day for the Longhorns and not as good a defensive effort as we’ve come to expect.”

It’s a disappointing end to a rollercoaster of a season for Virginia Tech.

The ride started well, took a turn into a dark tunnel, and then floored out into the light. The 100-foot drop led to the greatest moment of the entire journey, a core memory in Brooklyn, all before water splashed up into everyone’s face to bring them back to reality.

Like any amusement park enthusiast who just experienced their stomach drop in an unusual way, it’s going to take some time for Young & Co. to process what they just witnessed. But when it settles in, despite the sour result more than 700 miles away from home, it’ll be a special memory.

“Those guys hung in there and continued to come to practice and didn’t separate,” Young said. “We get a basket in at the buzzer to advance [vs. Clemson] and then rattle off consecutive wins, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Duke to win the ACC Championship. Not taking that away, ever.

“[We’re] going to continue to come here [to the NCAA Tournament], need to win here.”

Box Score: Link 

Postgame Press Conference Transcript: Link 

38 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. John Ojiako should study and mimic everything that Hakeem Olajuwon did in his day. Hakeem dominated at the center position, and he was only 6’10”. He used the pivot and pump fake like nobody else, had great fundamentals, could go with both hands, and made it look easy. Never did anything complicated and averaged over 20 per game. I think big John could be a pleasant surprise next year…just have to show him some Hakeem then coach him up.

  2. Appreciation for a spectacular season of the VT basketball team and CMY, and inspiration from its turnaround midway. On the game against Texas, as a naïve observer, it struck me at the half that VT had done extremely well, especially with its defense. Despite Keve Aluma and Hunter Catoor out for several minutes at the end and some odd mistakes that may well have ironed out in the second half, and a freak last shot in at the buzzer, VT was only behind by two. It was understandable for CMY to adjust the defense in the second half to double team Andrew Jones, but in retrospect, on balance, the first half defense proved more effective, despite Jones’ (and only his) success for Texas on offence then. Hopefully on to new heights for the VT basketball team next year.

  3. When we lose, we play “slow”. What I mean by that is mentally and physically. We were indecisive against Texas and our feet weren’t moving like they should without the ball on offense and on defense. The sense of urgency felt low. Some of this had to do with Texas rattling the fellas with their defense and toughness. But in the end I believe VT beats Texas 9 out of 10 times if both teams are playing their best. Have to have that sense of urgency and be decisive. But an incredibly entertaining season, and we are the ACC Champs!

  4. David, great reporting. Just curious – did you talk to any of the VT players about how they liked or disliked the new ball that the NCAA introduced for this tourney? If so – how long did the team get to practice with the new model?

    1. Thanks! I did not ask, actually, because I had no idea when I talked with them. We spoke with players and Mike before they shot around on Thursday, so they hadn’t used the balls yet at all, and I didn’t know they were different until I saw them. Not sure how long they got to practice with them.

  5. I think CMY and Tech are poised to be a contender year-in, year-out in the ACC. Recruits will take notice of the success and the Cassell atmosphere. Tech has competitive facilities now. If an assistant coach leaves, CMY seems to have the reputation to get his choice of replacements. All bodes well for the future.

  6. Thank you to coach Young and this group of VT players, it was an unbelievable ride of the 4-games ACC Tournament. The future is exciting for VT basketball. This is home, Go Hokies…

  7. Game Summary:

    VT UT
    73 81 Final Score
    12 30 From Three Point Shots
    38 34 From Two Point Shots
    23 17 From Free Throws

    Biggest VT Lead: 6 (6-0)
    Biggest UT Lead: 17 (64-47)
    Last Tie (of 4): 27-27
    Last Lead Change: UT 34, VT 32
    It Was Over: UT 74, VT 59

    From elation last weekend, to what has to be described as a disappointing finish. Buzz Williams took three tries to get his first NCAA win as a Hokie, and Mike Young has also failed in his first two attempts. Failure is of course a relative phrase; getting in and losing, is much better than watching from home.

    Texas shot the lights out from three, having no doubt their best game in that area, all season, just at the right time. Of course, one of those threes had to be a first half heave that banked in from well behind the halfcourt stripe, giving the Longhorns the lead for good. Much as Miami’s buzzer beater shot in Blacksburg was pretty much the end of the woes for Tech, unfortunately, this one signaled the end of the fantastic run where the Hokies won 13 of 15, and took home their first ACC Championship. Sadly, the momentum finally fizzled, and that was it.

    Storm Murphy got to play in front of family and friends. Too bad it was only for a single game. We wish him well, in whatever he does in life, as his last game in a Tech uniform did not work out the way he would have wanted. Will Aluma and Mutts give it one more try? We hope. Pedulla’s performance tonight, shows the future.

    Twenty three wins. The aforementioned ACC title, for a team in dead last in league play, at 10-10 (2-7), having lost ten of their last fifteen, and being pretty much written off.

    Mike Young, I believe, will continue to do good things in Blacksburg. I look forward to November, when hopefully we will be having a good football 2022, with Brent Pry, but starting to pack Cassell, to root on Hokie Basketball!

  8. Fully appreciating this team, this coach, these players, and this season. Yes, this game didn’t go down the way we wanted – but on many, many other days against this same Texas team, I think it would have been a different result with Tech playing the game it’s been playing.

    Yes, Texas was more physical than our guys were accustomed to, but if it weren’t for Texas having a far better day shooting than usual – well, my feeling is that was the difference. Tech has lived for some years with the feast/famine of great 3-point shooting – they’ve evolved to where they can use the inside game to complement the outside, but what you can’t really plan for is the other team having one of its best days shooting on the same day you have one of your worst (bad combination!).

    Overall, what an incredibly enjoyable bunch of guys this team has been, and delivering some truly great moments! Always want the team to keep getting better and reaching higher, but I recommend celebrating what we have, and don’t let that appreciation get lost in worrying about what we don’t.

    1. Absolutely. Incremental steps; Win the ACC Championship this year. Make a good NCAAT run next year. I love the sound of ACC Basketball Champs.

    2. Well said! And I really like the direction we are going in. Sometimes it just takes multiple stabs at the NCAA before really getting lucky…and I mean lucky. I feel like we deserved a higher seed and in that we were unlucky.

  9. Nice Indiana Jones pull.

    Texas was just the better team. Dictated pace, type of game, tempo. They completely took us out of our game. Great coaching by Beard.

    1. Texas will not shoot that well again. Most of those 3s were contested. They are a very good defensive team, but if Hunter and Aluma were on the floor, Hokies up 10 at half.

      1. Disagree… Alleyne did not play good D on Andrew Jones. There were several times he was late coming under/around a screen, or we had him and another Hokie (varied time to time) both stuck underneath the screener with neither choosing to step out to defend the 3.

      2. I think it was just Texas’ day. But those 2 horrible 1st half foul calls on Aluma changed the complexion of the game. On the post game comments, CMY said even the ref admitted it was a bad call. I hope that ref gets a bad rating from his supervisor.

  10. Bottom line is we need players that can drive the ball and pick up fouls. Fortunately, we have 3 point shooters, But when they are not falling we have notice else to rely on. Hopefully, Pedula and Maddox can become those players, That will get us to the next level. Go Hokies

    1. Agreed. It will be interesting to see what CMY and the coaches focus on during the off season. Do we do what we do now, but just do it better? I’d like to see some more transition baskets created off of turnovers.

  11. The tournament was a bit of an after thought for me this year. The long view is the Hokies are building momentum; Sweet 16, ACC Championship, multiple consecutive national tournament appearances, a new dedicated coach with a system and a vision, improved recruiting, improved financial investment, improved facility investment, and so much more. Yes, national tournament wins should be the next level of expectation but, this season was a resounding success by breaking through the confence championship barrier. I will be dinning on that for a good long while looking forward to the amazing things CMY, his staff and his team will accomplish next year. Success makes you hungry for more. What a brilliant ride the last 10 years in Hokie basketball, almost like the ride we were on since January, very low to very high.

  12. I felt that the refs called tiky taky fouls on the hokies while Texas was allowed to be more physical without calls. Sure the number of fouls called where relatively similar however the nature of the fouls were not. Texas should have had more fouls called. Totally impacted the flow of the game.

    With Keve and Hunter on the bench with 2 fouls for a long stretch, I felt good that it was an even game until the prayer shot was good to end the half. I was thinking we start the second half with our starting five and no way Texas shoots that well the entire game. I was wrong.

    Looking forward to next year. Go Hokies

    1. Agree. Seemed that Texas could body up/bump all over the place but Aluma got that phantom offensive foul in the first half. Still, you’ve got to go with what the refs are letting the teams get away with.

    2. the nature of the fouls were not.>>>>

      This has been the worst officiating I’ve seen – in both the men’s and women’s NCAA tourney. It’s not the number of fouls that are called that dictate the quality of the officiating. Th Baylor-UNC game is a prime example. I’m not a ‘heel fan in any sport – but it was like the officials just wanted to go home.

      Can’t any of these officials count to 3? I’ve seen 3 seconds called once.

      The women’s officials are trying to call the games like the NBA.

      In any case – the men and women had great seasons. Softball is playing great. And Lewis should have won the NC last night.

    3. I recall someone on this site making the prediction that if the refs let them play then Texas plays a physical game and wins. If they call the game tight, then we win. Whom ever called it right. When ever a player goes down for obvious physical contact then someone fouled. Were there any offensive fouls called on Texas?

    4. Apparently, playing physical means committing fouls without having them called. If the game were officiated by ACC refs, that whole Texas team would have fouled out.

  13. Very disappointing. They game planned us better than we game planned them. This was an upset, regardless of the seeding. Everyone was predicting us to win and we disappointed. Very frustrating.

    1. They did everything better than we did, most notably, guarding 3 point shooters, but it had zero to do with game planning. We didn’t execute on defense. If we had, we probably would have won the game – we scored 73 points. You’re not going to win many games when you give up 81 points.

  14. Coach K said that it was hard to prepare for our offense in a day. You needed 2 or 3 days and Texas had it. They did was Clemson was able to do and that was suffocate us at the 3 line without giving up too many points down low. When we were down double digits with just a few minutes to go I though we needed to figure out a way to get open 3s even if it meant stepping farther out. May not have won if we don’t hit them. But 2 at a time wasn’t going to get us back in it. Seemed futile to just settle for the drives.

  15. Great season but agree with CMY in that we, “ need to win here.” Getting to the tournament is great but I’m greedy now and think it should be our baseline. The next step is winning in the tournament. Not just one game but putting it together and building teams that can routinely make it to the second weekend and when things fall our way an Elite 8, Final 4 and maybe even a finals run. I’m not saying I expect that (yet) but I want to be like Lloyd Christmas every year and feel like we’ve got a chance.

    Thanks Hokies for an amazing rollercoaster of a year. I was hoping the ACC championship wasn’t our peak but even though it turned out to be, looking back, that was one hell of a peak that I will remember for the rest of my life.

    1. 1) We were the ACC champs yet placed 11th. Then paired with one of best defensive teams in the country. Why?

      2) Our two players who are most capable of making an impact got a couple of cheap fouls while Texas players were crashing around. If fouls were called on the Texas players early then that would have defeated their physical play.

      3) Our team did not make their shots,

      How badly did Purdue beat Texas. I recall while watching Purdue playing Yale and they seemed to have a number of big bodies. Too bad CMY could not put a jersey on Dax.


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