Seeking an early start and a quick strike against a pesky Florida State bunch, the Hokies knew they had to secure a firm grasp of any early momentum on a Saturday afternoon inside Cassell Coliseum.
Turns out, Virginia Tech did just that.
After a pair of MJ Collins free throws and a Sean Pedulla deuce, Tech then garnered a much-needed burst to set the tone the rest of the way. Justyn Mutts made it a 6-0 ballgame right around the rim, and after a Grant Basile flush and an ensuing trey, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton had seen enough.
The Hokies had snatched an 11-0 advantage right out of the gate. Behind a season-high 16 3-pointers and a game-best 25 points from Pedulla, Tech (18-13, 8-12 ACC) led from start to finish, dispatching the Seminoles (9-22, 7-13) with ease in an 82-60 victory.
“What [Florida State] does defensively is so disruptive, and it can really hard you to get your arms around it,” Tech fourth-year head coach Mike Young said. “I thought our team got a handle on it early on.
“[We] passed the ball well. … The game is a whole heck of a lot easier when the ball goes into the basket. … We’ve got some guys who can ring the bell, and we did tonight.”
The Hokies shot 51.8% (29-of-56) from the field in the 22-point triumph and hit 47.1% (16-of-34) of their shots from the outside. Pedulla paced the maroon and orange by setting a new career-high while connecting on 6-of-8 shots from deep.
Cattoor, too, had another solid performance in what might’ve been his final appearance on the Hokies’ home floor. The Orlando, Fla. native put up 14 points, and despite being held scoreless in the first period of play, knocked down 4-of-9 shots from the outside.
“We just were playing unselfish basketball,” Cattoor said. “I think we were just making the right play, making the extra pass. Florida State does a really good job of forcing everything into the paint, and when they do, everyone collapses.
Cattoor and Mutts were the lone Hokies to be honored on senior night. Mutts’ eligibility finally runs up after playing the past five seasons in the collegiate ranks. Cattoor, a longtime mainstay in Young’s starting five, will wait until after the season to decide whether or not the standout guard will opt to use his final year of eligibility as a result of the pandemic-riddled 2020-21 campaign.
“[Cattoor] affects winning in so many more ways than scoring,” Young said. “I thought he did an exceptional job on [FSU guard] Caleb Mills. He’s the best cutter we’ve got, he’s the best receiver we’ve got, he’s the best screener we got. He’s going to draw the other team’s best backcourt player every game, and he was terrific there.
“I’m proud of him. I’ve had a wonderful time coaching him. I’ve had a wonderful time seeing him progress and mature physically and as a basketball player. He’s really, really good. It’s been a real treat to have him here.”
With Mutts totaling eight points, seven assists and six rebounds, the pair combined for 22 points, 10 dimes and nine boards. They put the perfect capper on each other’s regular season career should Cattoor never suit up again on Carilion Clinic Court.
Virginia Tech also outrebounded the Seminoles, 30-24, and held them to just 33.3% on just 8-of-24 shooting from beyond the arc. It never really felt threatened, and although the garnet and gold cut the deficit down to four early on in the second half, Tech surged ahead, and did so with ease.
Leading 41-37 with just over 18 minutes to go, the Hokies proceeded to go on a 24-6 run over the next 8:02. They eventually pushed the lead out to 28 with just under two minutes remaining after another late-game 10-2 binge.
Tech’s scoring was spread out. Five Hokies posted double figures with Basile (13) racking up double-digits for the 15th consecutive outing. True freshmen Rodney Rice and Collins had 10 points each.
Now, it’s up to Virginia Tech to go on a run. With the regular season in the rearview mirror and an opportunity at a second straight ACC crown coming up next week, the team’s attention turns to the ACC tournament next week at the Greensboro Coliseum.
With the victory earlier today, the 11th-seeded Hokies have a date lined up with 14th-seeded Notre Dame in the first round of action on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. ET. And with having to win five consecutive bouts in a daunting five days, the task will be tough, but it doesn’t seem to deter a confident bunch.
“Obviously, we didn’t have the regular season we wanted to,” Cattoor said. “But it’s [the] conference [tournament] now, and everyone’s 0-0. You can’t take your wins with you into the [tournament.]
“At the end of the day, we got five games to win in five days. We’ve just got to make another run.”
“We’ve got a good look about us,” Young said. “We’ll come over tomorrow and begin our preparation for [Notre Dame]. [We’ll] get down there on Monday, get settled in and hope we can hang around for a little while.”
Box Score: Virginia Tech 82, Florida State 60
9 Responses You are logged in as Test
Five games, in five days.
The odds are long, but not impossible.
The good thing is we have a full roster, unlike say Buzz – not taking a shot at him – who played seven or eight guys. I can’t remember a team w/a couple of pgs, including Rice here, wings and three, count ’em three big men. I don’t remember a full schollie roster like this. I think that helps some. I can’t see Ray Rice starting one of those – I can sort of imagine it though – but think that’s a big deal coming up, if he plays well, I’m sure Mike will keep him in there longer.
You know, I kinda like our chances, one game at a time though.
It feels like we have, outside of Maddox, everyone healthy and working together.
Five games in five days, though… do we have enough gas in the tank?
Heh, heh, you CAN take your wins with you to the tournament, that’s what byes are if you’ve earned ’em. OK, I’m being a smartarse, agreeing with Young they do have a “good look” about them, for the first time they have everyone on board, Cattoor has had plenty of time to play in from his injury and Rodney Rice? Ten points? There is still time for him to leave a mark on this season. This really can be “peak” team, Collins has had a season of improvement. Multiple pg’s, multiple wings, multiple big guys, I don’t really remember having a full roster like that.
Good luck to Mutts, I have your poster on the wall, And, I’m not going to apologize again, but figured Cattoor would be a really great guy on the scout team, who knew? (and amazing job by MY finding guys like him and Aluma and Mutts and turning them into stars) I completely understand if Cattoor leaves, life awaits you, but if you come back, I’ll be happy…Kenny’s daughter is here (wink, wink)
“Kenny’s daughter is here (wink, wink)”
Oh, that is SO unfair…
Keep it up! 😊
Carter – you have a real future at this! Great write up and love the enthusiasm without being a VT homer. Balanced article with favor to the Good Guys, but an overall an excellent piece. Look forward to reading more of your stuff!
Nice write-up, Carter.
I so enjoy Cattoor. I remember when he transferred in with Coach…many thought he was not ACC caliber!
He’s proven he is ACC caliber. I hope he decides to return for that extra year. If everyone comes back who is eligible, next year could be a special season w/o the injury bug like this season had.
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