Virginia Tech Basketball Loses Fifth Straight Game In Syracuse Thrashing

Justyn Mutts and the Hokies struggled on the road at Syracuse. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Virginia Tech men’s basketball lost its fifth straight game in Wednesday’s 82-72 thrashing at Syracuse. It’s the eighth loss in nine tries for the program at the JMA Wireless Dome. 

Though it was a six-point game at halftime, the Orange (11-6, 4-2 ACC) outscored the Hokies (11-6, 1-5 ACC) 20-4 over the first 7:30 in the second half, extending the lead to 22, 63-41. Tech eventually recovered, ripping off a 10-0 run, but never pulled closer than 10 points throughout the rest of the game.

Grant Basile led the Hokies with 26 points (12-of-17), his best mark since his career-high 30 in the season-opener. He added 10 rebounds, too, good for his third double-double on the year.

Justyn Mutts scored 21 (9-of-15) and had a game-high nine assists. Sean Pedulla and Lynn Kidd each contributed 10 points and combined for 12 rebounds. Pedulla had seven dimes as well.

Five different players scored in double figures for Syracuse, spearheaded by Joe Girard’s 24 (10-of-20). Jesse Edwards (13), Judah Mintz (12), Maliq Brown (11) and Justin Taylor (10) scored 70 of the Orange’s 82. Brown and Edwards brought in 12 and nine boards, respectively, while Edwards led SU with six assists.

In the first half, both teams shot above 50% and little defense was played on either end. Syracuse was 5-of-10 from behind the arc and 17-of-31 (54.8%) from the floor. Virginia Tech wasn’t too shabby itself at 51.7% (15-of-29).

Mike Young has some work to do to right the ship before traveling to Virginia on Jan. 18. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

However, the Hokies made just two of their nine 3-point attempts before intermission. For the game, they were 3-of-19 (15.8%), which ties a season-low (Penn State, 3-of-19). Pedulla had two of Tech’s makes (on 11 attempts) while Basile hit the other.

As outlined in the preview leading into Wednesday, point distribution for Syracuse’s opponents is heavily skewed to the three. Even with the debut of Rodney Rice, who finished with two points, three steals and four rebounds, Tech struggled to penetrate the zone. And when it did get good looks, they ricocheted off the rim.

At halftime, the Orange led 43-37 thanks to nine points each from Girard and Edwards. To that point, Tech had only turned it over twice.

What followed in the second half was sloppy basketball. The Hokies wound up with 11 giveaways and made just two of their first eight shots. Over that same stretch, Syracuse was 7-of-16, which is what sparked the 20-4 run.

VT struggled to stop a SU team that was 50.8% from the floor (30-of-59) and eight-of-16 from distance. The rebounding margin was close, 37-36 in Syracuse’s favor, and Tech scored 10 more points in the paint (46-36). But Girard (3-of-7), Taylor (2-of-3) and Chris Bell (2-of-3) each made the Hokies pay over 40 minutes.

Virginia Tech travels to No. 13 Virginia on Wednesday, Jan. 18 for its next game. The Hokies have lost three straight in Charlottesville, though they’ve won two of the last three meetings. After UVa, contests against Clemson (away) and Duke (home) await. They’ll get a rematch with the Orange on Jan. 28 in Cassell Coliseum, too.

Box Score: Link 

28 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I like Pedulla but he takes crazy, low-percentage shots too often instead of involving teammates and being a distributor. Mutts, Basile and Kidd were having some success inside against the zone but too often Pedulla sprints inside and throws up a wild shot while falling down which is nothing better than a turnover. Gotta play better team ball.

  2. Lots of talent. Great coaching. Hard for me to figure what’s the problem other than the Hokies just ain’t makin’ threes.

    1. You nailed it, except too many TO’s (11) although SU committed 12. But when you’re only shooting 16% (3/19) and the other side is making 50% (of its 3’s) and the play a zone defense, you’re not going to win.. Even though our FG (2pt.) % (43%) looked bad, it wasn’t far off our season avg. of.46%. The game was lost beyond the arc: 9 pts. vs. 24. Sometimes that’s going to happen; our season avg. from beyond the arc is 36% vs. 32% for our opponents. Do the numbers: SU shot 14% above our opponents’ 3pt. avg. for the season. . They won’t do that when we see them in the Cassell on Jan. 28. Imo, there is nothing wrong w/this team that a return to the lineup by Hunter Cattoor can’t fix: 3 – long range shooters is better than 2. Odds are all 3 arenot going to be off on the same night. Yiou can beat Syracuseif you can’t draw them out of their 2/3 zone, esp. when they’re shooting like they did last night. All of this said, it wasnice to finally see Rodney Rice on the floor. He’s clearly been well-coached, not a hot-dog, as hec onsistently looked to pass before taking a shot. Inidentally, Joe Baimsile (2020-21) who transferred to GWU last year, has since trasferred to OU where he’s avg. 11mins/game and 3.4 pts; he averaged 28 pts in HS. Not a team (Mike Young) player. We hardly miss him. Likewise, Landers Nolley (2019-2020) has transferred yet again, from Memphis to Cincinnati. . .

      1. If you look at just the stats – and ignore the 3 pt shooting line – you would think this was probably something like a one score game which either could win.

        1. My point exactly. The diffrence in the game was shooting outside the arc, a stristical anomaly. No more, no less. It’s all in the stats. Would you have believed going into the game we’d only make 3 of 19 and the ‘cuse 8 of 16 beyond the arc? Going into the game. SU shot about 36% on the season beyond the arc. Even though last night’s game didn’t change that % much, it’s still 14% pt. higher than the season’s avg. If they stayed true to form, they would have scored 6 pts. not 24 beyond the arc and we have a different game. Fact: we scored 52 pts. on 2pt. FG’s, SU 44. No way to get around it, the;’cuse won the game because they shot 50% beyond the arc and we weren’t even close to our season’s avg., 16% vs. 31%. .If we shoot our avg. we score another 9 pts. The season’s avg. represents 17 games, half a season and a better predictor of what’s ahead than lastnight. That said, odds are there will be a night or two or three ahead which will compensate for last njight. Again, any number of people reading this can say anyhting they want including, fire CMY, but this game came down to 1-statistic. I don’t expect us to shoot 16% very often beyond the arc nor do I expect SU to make a regualr thing out of 50%. . .

  3. The reason this team sucks is Maddox got overrated when he hit the big shot against Clemson. He is not what we expected. Miss Alumas presence and rebounding. Miss the spunk of Storm.

    1. Maddox shot well last season, not just the one bucket vs Clemson. Yes, more productivity was expected.

    2. This is nonsense. Half the people on this blog wanted to fire MY last year. Pedulla has plenty of spunk. What this team misses is Hunter Cattoor as a Starter. We lost last night because SU hit 50%, 14% better than their season avg. (24 pts. vs. 6.3). That was 24 pts. vs. 9. It’s hat simple. In fact, we scored more pts on TO’s , 15 vs. 9. And while the Orangehad more second chance pts. than we did, they onmly out reabounded ius by 1, 37:36. And whereas their bench outscored ours, 26:12, we outscored them in th epaint, 36:26, the main diference was beyond the arc. Ask youself, how often do we excpect to shoot 16% vs. 50% and be outscored 24:9 outisde the paint? Could it be that statistics isn’t your strong suit? It’snot mine either but the older I get the more senstive I am to hard data, not perceptions.

  4. It’s no coincidence that Tech had about 12 (or more) layups/dunks compared to three three-pointers. Teams are willing to give up the two to keep Tech from going off on the three. Like the way Rice moves. Maybe Maddox is better coming off the bench, like last year.

    1. Perhaps so but who would you rather start over him? The real issue imo, is that Cattoor is recoveing from an injury and his replacement is a Freshman who logged 21′ and produced 0 points.

      1. A good point but that they did was because they were shooting the lights out beyond the arc and we were shooting about half our season’s avg. Both teams will revert to norm.

    2. Btw, Rice is a Freshman who missed the first half of the season. Look how JRob and Erick Green improved in every season.

  5. Kidd was toughest VT guy on the floor last night, but I did think that they all stepped up after timeout when we were down 20. This is the ACC. Can’t play finesse ball all the time; especially when you can’t hit the 3s. Rice is gonna be good and take pressure off of Pedula and Cattoor. I still say Maddox has changed his release for the worse. Maybe just a confidence thing.

    1. His shot motion does look different, especially when he has time. His quick shots have a different looking release.

  6. How is a 10 point loss a thrashing. Come on man. It’s a loss no need to pile on and call it a thrashing. Gessh

    1. SCHokie, it was a thrashing! Only the score looked a little better due to us hitting a garbage time 3.

  7. I was impressed with Rice’s debut. I thought he showed really good court savvy and basketball IQ on a night where that was in limited supply. I know Pedulla and Maddox have the green light but their shot selection has really hurt VT at times over this 5 game losing streak. It’s easy to forget they are still under classmen and hopefully they can improve. I would like to see Kidd and Collins get more minutes especially if Rice demonstrates he can run the point effectively.

    It now gets really hard to break this losing streak. Maybe Duke at home becomes the most winnable game in the stretch because VT hasn’t looked very good on the road (albeit mostly without Catoor) and the next two are against the top of the ACC.

    1. Pedulla really threw up a few crazy 3 attempts. I totally love the kid but he does need to be a bit more selective at times with the decision to throw up 3’s that are 5 feet beyond the line. I thought Rice looked about like I thought he would in his first game. Seemed pretty tentative to me but man he had a few flashes and really looks the part.

  8. Hate to see us struggle so much without Hunter. Of many challenges one of the biggest gaps is our guards have been dominated in the past 5 ACC games. The gap is huge. Rice will be fine and in time could see him running the point. Love Pedullas effort just is getting dominated defensively in ever game

  9. Basile, Mutts and Kidd shot 25-37. Pedulla, Rice, Maddox and Collins 4-30. Good grief. We are a team that takes a lot of 3s and is now shooting a very poor %. They only made one more FG than us, but we got beat at the 3 pt. line. Pedulla needs to get over the heroic, “I can hit any shot” mentality. He took several bombs early in the shot clock. He is taking so many shots that we can’t overcome it if he doesn’t shoot a reasonable %. Hard to see where the next win is going to come from in the near future. Syracuse at home? By then we could well be 1-10 in the ACC.

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