Virginia Tech Basketball Loses Close Game At Wake Forest To End 2022

Sean Pedulla and Virginia Tech couldn’t get by Wake Forest on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

For the third time in the 2022-23 season, Virginia Tech men’s basketball fell on the road. On New Year’s Eve, the responsible party was Wake Forest in a 77-75 contest that was back-and-forth for 40 minutes.

Demon Deacons guard Tyree Appleby led all scorers with 24 points and scored six of his team’s final eight. But despite holding Wake Forest (10-4, 2-1 ACC) to 36.5% shooting, the Hokies (11-3, 1-2 ACC) couldn’t get over the hump without injured guard Hunter Cattoor.

“I thought they [Wake Forest] were just relentless and kept going,” Tech forward Justyn Mutts said after the loss. “At the end of the day, it’s more about Virginia Tech and what we can do better. We didn’t do the best we could’ve done on the boards. We left a lot out there, and at the end of the day, that’s going to come back to hurt you.”

Wake Forest dominated on the offensive glass against Virginia Tech and Lynn Kidd. (Ivan Morozov)

Even though the Demon Deacons tried to pull away multiple times, the Hokies continuously found a way to answer. After a 3-pointer from Appleby pushed the lead to 11 with 13:35 to play, Tech responded with a 14-5 run and cut the margin to two.

A few minutes later, Appleby nailed a three from the top of the key as the shot clock expired. Though WF led by eight, a quick 6-0 stretch from Tech made it a two-point game. Sean Pedulla and Mutts, who each contributed 18 points, played key roles in keeping the Hokies in the game.

“We were on ice a little bit,” Tech head coach Mike Young said. “We had a couple of bad offensive possessions. … But we stiffened up and made some timely plays. I thought we defended quite well. But those intangibles, those little plays to get you out of tight spots, they made a few more of them than we did.”

Justyn Mutts and Sean Pedulla each had 18 points for Virginia Tech, but it wasn’t enough at Wake Forest. (Ivan Morozov)

Mutts posted 18 and 11, his fifth double-double this season, while Pedulla had seven assists and three steals. However, they couldn’t seal the deal. Wake Forest established itself as the more physical team and grabbed 14 offensive boards. And it didn’t matter that WF missed seven of its final eight shots; it got the offensive rebound four times in that span, which was the difference in the end.

“They’re really good, but they’re not a great rebounding team,” Young said. “When I play three bigs out of necessity and we give up 14 offensive rebounds, that’ll get your tail whipped.”

Trailing by five, Grant Basile knocked down a triple with 60 seconds remaining, giving the team an opportunity. But two offensive rebounds from Andrew Carr and two free throws from Damari Monsanto created a four-point game in the final seconds. It didn’t matter that Darius Maddox’s jumper at the horn fell through the net – Tech suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since January 2022 (North Carolina, Miami).

Mike Young was not happy with his team’s performance on the glass at Wake Forest. (Ivan Morozov)

The Hokies were short a man in their usual rotation due to Cattoor’s absence, forcing Young to switch things up. Lynn Kidd started alongside Mutts and Basile while MJ Collins, John Camden and Mylyjael Poteat combined for 61 minutes off the bench. Unlike the last game at Boston College, Tech got a boost from its reserves – 18 points to 1. But foul trouble forced Young to use his depth more than he would’ve liked.

The trio of Roger Ayers, Jamie Luckie and Bill Covington Jr. whistled Tech for 24 fouls, the most this season. Pedulla, Mutts, Basile and Collins finished with four each. The first two, Tech’s most productive players on the afternoon, both had four with 8:28 remaining in the game. In turn, Wake Forest shot 26 free throws, making 20.

“Going into the game, I didn’t think, ‘Oh, man, those guys really get fouled a lot,'” Young said. “‘Oh, man, they’re really physical. Oh, man.’ I didn’t feel that way at all. But that’s sloppy, that’s lazy and something we need to correct. We were one of the league leaders in not fouling, keeping people off the line. That’s a big part of it.”

It was a physical, scrappy game with a lot of fouls called on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

Turnovers hurt, too. Over a two-minute stretch early in the second half, Tech gave the ball away on four straight possessions – two from Mutts, two from Pedulla. For the fourth consecutive game, VT had double-digit turnovers, finishing with 13.

Young & Co. entered Saturday at No. 7 in the country in turnover percentage at 14.7%. But in the recent stretch of games against Oklahoma State, Grambling State, Boston College and Wake Forest, they’ve had 51 miscues on 268 possessions (19.0%).

Still, the Hokies had a chance when it mattered, ultimately falling short. They got the stop they hoped to get, but two offensive rebounds from Wake Forest’s Carr (14 points, seven boards) killed all hopes.

Andrew Carr, pictured defending Sean Pedulla, had five offensive rebounds for Wake Forest. (Ivan Morozov)

“Winning on the road’s really hard, I don’t care what league you’re in” Young said. “Beating Wake Forest on the road, it’s hard. And those are real feathers in the cap, and we’ve lost, we’ve squandered two opportunities, at BC and at Wake Forest.”

Young did not provide an update on the status of freshman guard Rodney Rice after the game. He was a game-time decision but did not participate, and New Year’s Eve was originally his projected return date from his ankle injury.

Yet Young provided some positive news on Cattoor. He expects the veteran, the lone player remaining from his first team in Blacksburg in 2019-20, to return to the floor in the team’s next game on Wednesday, Jan. 4 vs. Clemson. The Orlando, Fla. native suffered an injury to his left arm at Boston College on Dec. 21.

Hunter Cattoor should be back for Virginia Tech’s game vs. Clemson, per Mike Young. (Ivan Morozov)

“He’s really close,” Young said. “We had a shot to play him today but he’s very close. I think he’ll play on Wednesday. He’s feeling good. I thought it was just in his best interest and our team’s best interest to hold onto him for a night here. He’s still a little tender, he’s still got some bruising on that elbow. But we caught a break, it could’ve been a lot worse.”

Box Score: Link

21 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Note to coaching staff (BB and FB): Please ditch those horrible near-maroon/fuchsia shirts that you’re wearing.

  2. We always seem to get outphysicled and outmuscled whether it be men’s or women’s basketball. Lol.

    1. You are 100% correct! Guarantee you ACC coaches tell their teams, if we play physical against the Hokies we will beat them! Also, this isn’t being talked about, but Mutts is avg. 3.0 turnovers per game, which is unacceptable!

  3. Ayres was one of the officials in the BC boxing match in when very few whistles were heard, yet today the whistles were heard very often, it has to be difficult for players and coaches to adjust to such inconsistent officiating. Hopefully we can gel as a team. Things are a bit out of sync right now, but a lot of basketball remains.

    1. Officiating in general isn’t great, but my word the officiating in men’s college basketball is appalling. I barely even watch regular season games partially because the refs are so bad and inconistent.

  4. I still feel we need to get bigger and athletic as we have trouble with bigger and more physical teams. Look at these past few games and the NCAA tourney against Texas.

  5. Until Maddox gets his head out of the clouds and Basile shows up and battles, this team will struggle. Basile had 2 rebounds and again got dominated on the boards just like BC

    1. Basile is a 6’9 guy who thinks he’s a pure perimeter player. He needs to tough it up a little and work around the basket…offense and defense!

  6. Tough loss, but the reserves played well. Once Cattour and Rice are healthy, we’ll have nice match up options. But Maddox needs to get going, and soon.

  7. Another dud. I was thinking this team should be pretty good, ranked all year and top 5 seed in ncaa tourney. Ooops. Looks like another mediocre season.

        1. Agreed, an average team that that has its moments, may make tournament but will do no damage. IWII.

  8. Couldn’t agree more with the above comments. Whit and Company, just a reminder that our school colors are Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange. Who in the world came up with the color scheme for today’s game? Whoever it was they need to be told again what our school colors currently are. And I might add, when will we ever actually have burnt orange in any of our uniforms versus the Halloween orange we always have?

    1. FWIW, gray and black were the original school colors when you he school was VAMC. Don’t know if that’s what the connection was or coincidence. But there is a story there.

      As it relates to Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange, we never use either. Chicago Maroon is to maroon as Navy Blue is to blue….it is virtually black ….very deep dark maroon. Burnt Orange is what Texas uses for there jerseys.

      I wish we would get it right

  9. Nice to see Tech wearing its official team colors (black and gray) on the road. I miss those Chicago maroon and burnt orange colors. Whit said that when Tech is on the road, folks will automatically know that the visiting team is Virginia Tech with their distinctive orange and maroon uniforms. 😉

Comments are closed.