Inside Shooting Struggles Doom Virginia Tech In Loss To Clemson

Virginia Tech and Sean Pedulla couldn’t complete the comeback vs. Clemson. (Jon Fleming)

For the first time in Mike Young’s four seasons at Virginia Tech, the Hokies shot below 30% on 2-point field goals. In Wednesday’s late-night loss vs. Clemson, they made just 12 of their 43 (27.9%) attempts from inside the arc. In turn, the Tigers handed Tech its third straight loss, 68-65.

It’s the first time the program has shot below 30% from two in a game since 2018-19 at Clemson, a stat only seen five times in the last 10 years. Moreover, it’s the worst percentage since 24.4% vs. Duke in the 2012 ACC tournament.

“I’m really battling the thing,” Tech head coach Mike Young said after the loss. “BC, Wake Forest and Clemson tonight have the ability to play a bigger lineup and I have a hard time matching up with that. I’m counteracting that with a big lineup on our own. Our spacing, our ball movement, our shot selection, at times, is not what it has to be.”

Tech (11-4, 1-3 ACC) played without guard Hunter Cattoor for the second straight game. As a result, the contest was settled in the frontcourt. Big bodies collided, and the Tigers (12-3, 4-0 ACC) really enforced their will. Though nine of Tech’s 21 makes were from behind the arc, it wasn’t sustainable. 

Grant Basile led the Hokies in scoring against the Tigers, but Tech’s offense struggled. (Jon Fleming)

Four of the five starters – Sean Pedulla, Darius Maddox, Justyn Mutts and Grant Basile – missed between seven and 13 shots. There were four instances where the Hokies missed five attempts in a row, too.

They were better on the glass (42-36) and in terms of turnovers (11-14) and fouls (17-21). But it was like the rim had a cover on it, and they couldn’t overcome it.

“It helps that Hunter Cattoor’s not playing,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “So it becomes a big body game. … It’s just physical. There’s not much space, there’s big bodies on top of you, you’ve got to play really good one-on-one interior defense. I thought we did that.”

Defensively, Virginia Tech battled. No Clemson player scored more than 13 points. Hunter Tyson, who posted 31 points and 15 rebounds against NC State, had 13 and 14. PJ Hall also added 13, but many of the Tigers didn’t find their footing until the second half.

PJ Hall and Clemson made the game very difficult for Virginia Tech in the paint. (Jon Fleming)

In all, five Clemson players scored in double figures. Chase Hunter (12 points), Brevin Galloway (11) and RJ Godfrey (10) combined with Tyson and Hall for 59 of the team’s 68 points.

Tech’s defense kept the team in the game in the long run, setting up a photo finish. As has been the theme in the three previous losses, the Hokies couldn’t pull out the win in a close game. But the defeats at College of Charleston, Boston College and Wake Forest were all on the road; Wednesday’s contest was in the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum, and things still didn’t go their way.

Clemson built its lead up to eight with 8:50 remaining in the game, but the Hokies roared back thanks to a 9-0 run, retaking the lead at 58-57 with less than six minutes to go. While it was back-and-forth from there, both teams missed good opportunities. But once Hall hit a jumper with 3:56 left, the Tigers never trailed again.

Though Darius Maddox got going early, he didn’t score in the second half. (Jon Fleming)

Maddox, who played with confidence in the first half and scored 11 points, didn’t get on the board in the latter 20 minutes. Basile led the scoring with 17 points for the Hokies while Pedulla added 14 and Mutts contributed 11. Yet, Tech couldn’t buy a basket in crunch time.

After Lynn Kidd tapped in a miss by Basile, Clemson’s lead was cut to three, 63-60. But Virginia Tech missed seven of its final eight shots over the final two minutes. Mutts hit a pair of clutch free throws to make it a one-point game with 43 seconds remaining, but on five possessions in the last minute of the game, Tech only scored once – a three from Pedulla with 11 seconds in a five-point game.

Pedulla had one final look as the clock ran down, but his pull-up three from the left wing was short. Tech trailed for the majority of the game, and even though it fought back from two eight-point margins, it wasn’t enough to get a second ACC win.

“No pouting,” Young said about his message to the locker room. “The only answer we have is to come back tomorrow and practice well, and they will. We’ve got to clean this up, we’ve got corrections to make. … We’ve got to play better basketball and find a way to win.”

Mike Young and the Hokies are in a tough spot, though it could be worse. (Jon Fleming)

The Hokies have seen more difficult records than 1-3 under Mike Young. Just last year they recovered from 2-7 in the league to finish 11-9. But without Cattoor, whom Young said “had a little setback,” this Virginia Tech team only has so many options. Mylyjael Poteat, John Camden and MJ Collins can only provide so much of a punch off the bench, and Wednesday was an example of how Tech struggles when fully committing to playing big against a more physical team.

NC State is up next, and the Wolfpack are 12-4 (2-3 ACC) after blowing out Duke by 24, 84-60, on Wednesday. After that, a road trip to Syracuse is on the docket before clashing with Virginia in Charlottesville.

The schedule isn’t going to get any easier for the Hokies. While they’re awfully close – all four losses were decided by 10 total points – this team is completely different with a healthy Cattoor who can provide support handling the ball, spaces the floor and is an experienced defender. His return date may determine Tech’s fortunes through March. 

Box Score: Link 

20 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. What are our situation for next year with Mutts and Cattoor leaving? Where is the offense going to come from? Will we take step backwards?

  2. Eight points from the bench won’t cut it. This team NEEDS Cattoor. Too many careless TO”s and missed shots in the pait. Sloppy.

  3. Can’t win on the road, now can’t win at home. Can we play the rest of our games in Brooklyn?

  4. Several of the in-close layup attempts were bad that had little chance of going in. Several Pedulla attempts were forced in traffic. Mutts reverses are hit or miss. He often takes off too soon and they are short under the rim. Maddox needs shot attempts. His PG needs to get him shot attempts. Collins didn’t play as much as I thought he might given Cattoor, but bigs played more like Camden. Kidd in foul trouble hurt.

  5. Without Cattoor’s scoring,ball handling,floor spacing and defence we will continue to lose!If Rice is so injured then give someone some of Maddox’s minutes!He’s barely showing up!Collins brings no offense to the lineup and Bascile can’t quit making stupid fouls.Stop Pedulla and you win!Pretty easy to scout Va Tech now!!

  6. No use to cry over spilled milk, but where’s Rodney Rice?
    Can’t we at least sub him in for a couple of 2-3 minute stretches?
    We need more offense!

  7. observations. First we are playing only 2 guys who played significant minutes last year. Pedulla and Maddox came on late in the year but both played complimentary roles. So we are now featuring guys who are struggling to get use to ACC level play. Second is in crunch time we seem to get individuals trying to force their offense when we really need a basket. Often we see bad shot selection or at least not being patient and running the offense to get a good shot. Finally without Hunter we don’t appear to have a facilitator with ball getting the offense set to work.

  8. I posted before that we need a two hour layup practice. As everyone sees, we were awful in the paint. But I give some credit to Brownell for scouting us so well. Pedulla tried his layup drive repeatedly and I don’t remember even one going in. Also, Clemson seemed to know Mutts’s twisting layups, and he was kept in check. We all believed that we had a team that could shoot like crazy…and now we’re crazy shooting.

  9. If you can’t win without one of your best players, it means you don’t have adequate depth and you’re not gonna win in the ACC.

  10. So many point blank, inside shots were short arm misses, as if VT players are intimidated/expect to be fouled. Sure hope this season doesn’t become another case of: win the ACC Tourney or no Big Dance!
    Maybe some dedicated, concerted shooting practice might help?

  11. We really need Cattoor back. Our chemistry is really off without him. Didn’t help that Mutts had a dreadful game. Without Cattoor teams are saying “you’re gonna have to beat us with someone other than Pedulla” and focusing defensive attention on him. So far, we don’t have an answer. I’ve got a good feeling we will get it turned around vs NC State.

  12. We lack interior aggressiveness on offense. We make half or one third of the in close shots we win.
    Let’s beat NCST and gain confidence.

    1. I can’t believe how many shots were forced. Our shot selection was questionable at best. Maddox felt it in 1H and then Pedulla hits his first shot out of the break so naturally he has to heat check himself from 26′. I know he has a longer leash but it’s been said he’s fearless sometimes to his detriment. Maddox isn’t a great shot creator but he’s good enough esp if he’s feeling it. Encourage him to shoot more and take over while the big guys rebound. Didn’t happen.

  13. I know CMY is frustrated, but his comments are concerning. We have no answer against big teams. The tape is out on how to beat VT. Go big and we struggle.

    He needs to figure this out soon. But this has been a problem since he has been at VT, yet we still cannot adjust. If our shooters can’t shoot 3s, we lose.

  14. It’s Pedulla’s job to distribute the rock, drive and dump, etc. Have to move the ball more quickly. Have to be decisive. The silver lining is that while not playing good at all, we were still in it at the end. Once this this is humming…it’s going to be fun.

  15. Brownell summed it up in his statement – No Cattoor, and a physical game which they won. We need to figure out how to win close games. We seem to come out of a time out with no “go to” play call. we took many poor shots last night, hook shots, fall aways off-balance, etc.

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