Virginia Tech Basketball Drops Game To South Carolina In Charlotte, 79-77

Hunter Cattoor and Virginia Tech struggled offensively against South Carolina. (Jon Fleming)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Maybe it was the late tip (9:37 p.m. ET) or the slippery floor that made Virginia Tech seem slightly off on Friday night, but the Hokies didn’t have it in their 79-77 loss to South Carolina.

“[It’s] Nov. 10, we’ve got a long way to go,” Tech head coach Mike Young said after the loss. “I knew it, I thought we’d play better, I thought we’d find a way to win today. We didn’t. Lamont [Paris]’s team played better than our team. We’ll get appreciably better as we move along.”

Offensive struggles plagued Tech (1-1) in the first half, yet it had a chance at the end when it mattered. Sean Pedulla’s game-high 26 points, 22 of which came in the second half, carried the Hokies, though the Gamecocks (2-0) got the crucial stop to seal the game.

Tech, who played from behind for 30 of the 40 minutes, snatched back the lead with 3:32 remaining after Pedulla hit three free throws. The two sides traded some points before a Mylyjael Poteat layup tied the score at 77 with 43 seconds left.

Then it became crunch time and the Gamecocks buckled down. B.J. Mack, who had 19 points (9-of-16) and six rebounds for USC, got a layup to fall with 20 seconds to go. That gave the Hokies one final possession, and Young drew up a play with two options, one for both Pedulla or Hunter Cattoor.

But South Carolina blew it up behind the 3-point arc. Minnesota transfer Ta’Lon Cooper (12 points, 5-of-8, seven assists, no turnovers) guarded Pedulla so closely that he didn’t get a shot off, arguably the play of the game, preventing Tech from completing the comeback.

Sean Pedulla, Hunter Cattoor and Virginia Tech couldn’t get a shot off on the final possession. (Jon Fleming)

“I thought our intensity was extremely high, and so was our discipline, which is a hard combination to have,” South Carolina coach Lamont Paris said. “… I wanted these guys to establish themselves with what our bread and butter was in our man-to-man defense and they did that.”

“They were kind of planted in drop coverage against the ball screen so we wanted to involve something with that, but then also had Hunter coming out of the corner, which was also an option,” Pedulla said. “Picked up my dribble, kind of took away both options. Kind of froze up and then turned the ball over.”

In the latter stages of the game, Virginia Tech delivered punch after punch to South Carolina, who seemingly absorbed just about every blow. The Hokies cut the lead to single digits or tied the game nine different times in the second half, up until they took back the lead. On each occasion, the Gamecocks extended the margin.

Even when Tech led with under three minutes remaining, it didn’t hold. USC found ways to score clutch baskets. First, it was Myles Stute’s 3-pointer with 2:23 that gave the team a two-point cushion; later, it was Mack’s aforementioned layup.

The Hokies didn’t have an answer, and it didn’t matter that they shot 68% in the second half (15-of-22) — they couldn’t defend the Gamecocks, who were 56% from the floor for the game (31-of-55). Paris & Co. were also stout from behind the arc, knocking down 10-of-21 attempts (48%). Entering Friday night, Young said Tech’s goal was to hold USC to six or seven.

South Carolina experienced a few rough patches on the offensive end. Early in the first half, it was missing four shots in five attempts, which helped the Hokies jump out to a 15-10 lead. Down the stretch, it had a span of three-plus minutes where it missed six-of-eight shots.

Mylyjael Poteat and Virginia Tech did their best against B.J. Mack, but he still scored 19 points. (Jon Fleming)

But in a 40-minute game, those few consecutive defensive stops weren’t enough for Tech. It struggled to contain Stute, who had a team-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-6 from deep. He was one of four USC starters in double figures, accompanied by Mack (19), Cooper (12) and Meechie Johnson (11). Jacobi Wright also added 12 off the bench.

Specifically, it was the Mack show as the clock winded down. He wasn’t as outstanding as Pedulla in the second half — the junior from Edmond, Okla., was 5-of-6 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free throw line — but he was efficient, shooting 7-of-10. It was a full-circle moment for Mack, who once committed to the Buzz Williams regime at Tech back in 2016 as young high school student, as he gave the Hokies more than they could handle.

“Mack’s presence in there, he’s a load,” Young said. “He’s a great passer so you’re weary of a number of things. I’m just so disappointed we allowed Stute to get… Stute’s a good player, take nothing away from Myles, but you’ve got to make a player like him dribble to his shot, you can’t let him catch it and shoot it.”

Not being able to stop the Gamecocks put a damper on what was a positive second half offensively for the Hokies. They were 5-of-8 from long range and made 11-of-14 foul shots. Moreover, they only had two instances where they missed back-to-back field goals. It was a team effort spearheaded by Pedulla’s 22 points; Cattoor (eight), Lynn Kidd (six), Mekhi Long (six), Tyler Nickel (two) and Poteat (two) helped Tech succeed from multiple areas.

However, when it mattered, the Hokies came up short, in part due to a poor first half. While they were 11-of-30 (37%), including an abysmal — and uncharacteristic — 2-of-14 (14%) from distance, South Carolina was 15-of-26 (58%). Tech only turned it over once, which helped keep the game close at halftime, 38-31.

Still, it missed golden opportunities. Cattoor, who had 13 points, the second-most on the team, had a few looks that just didn’t fall, including one that was wide open from the right wing at the end of the first half. Pedulla also wasn’t great early; he and Cattoor were a combined 3-of-14, 1-of-9 from three with nine points through 20 minutes. Robbie Beran and Poteat led the way with seven points each.

It was an extremely physical game between Virginia Tech and South Carolina. (Jon Fleming)

“I’m anxious to go back and look at it,” Young said. “I didn’t think our rhythm was very good, I thought we were pushed up on the floor quite a bit. Our stuff, what we were doing offensively was not sharp enough. That, coupled with poor shot selection, can lead to what you saw.”

The narrative changed some in the second half due to Pedulla’s outstanding scoring, but the early woes came back to bite. And in a close game, it was those missed chances that doomed the Hokies in their defeat at the hands of the Gamecocks, who were picked to finish dead last in the SEC in the preseason.

Box Score: South Carolina 79, Virginia Tech 77

26 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Other than the FT disparity, this game looked a whole lot like the 2nd half of last season. Aimless offense and lackluster defense. I don’t think S. Carolina is going to be a particularly good SEC team and – although a one possession – seemed to outplay VT on both ends of the floor. If not for the FT shooting disparity, it wouldn’t have been particularly close.

  2. Tech doesn’t do well when the officiating allows lots of contact and pushing. They seemed to be looking for the whistle early in the game.
    At one point the network put up a stat that Kidd had yet to miss a shot, then they went about 10 minutes without getting the ball inside.

    Camden has to be able to give Cattoor a break. No way should he have played 40 minutes especially with the couple of spills he had that had him gimpy.
    Silly for an early season game. See what you have in the other guys. It wasn’t like the D with Cattoor was awesome.

  3. VT Offense didn’t flow at all and maybe even more disturbing was there was no help defense around the basket. Mack was able to back Poteat under the rim for an easy basket way too frequently. No one ever came to double team or help. That’s how they went two up. Been a tough weekend thus far.

  4. You can’t run off talent and be good. Can’t Play D, no athletes. Going to be a long year.
    What I would do to bring back Buzz.

    1. “Run off talent”? Lol. No we don’t “run off talent”. We need tough guys…esp Sialkot mentally tough ones we don’t quit when things are tough

  5. VT is looking like a finesse team – again.. Men’s College basketball has been turned into a very physical game because of the officiating. Very similar to the Women’s game. The worst thing about these trends is that there is no consistency in either.

  6. Hokies All, unless Collins, Beran, and Nickel IMPROVE, we are not a good team. Long, Poteat and Kidd played hard and were effective.. Sure CMY will make us better, but how much is a big question? GO HOKIES!!!!!!

    1. Spot on:
      Collins, Beran, Nickel, and Long look lost in the halfcourt.
      Its Pedulla or Kidd/ Poteat for reliable scoring.
      We get NOTHING from the 2,3, and 4 positions.
      Their D pushed us around, out past the 3 line and we had no answer except Pedulla making plays.
      Meanwhile their O flows fine and there’s no disruption by our supposedly improved D
      Somehow Mike doesn’t recognize that Kidd vs. Mack on the last USC position is the matchup… Kidd stonewalled him all night.

      At this point, as you say, without SIGNIFICANT improvement this is a team destined to finish just above UL and ND with O/U wins I’d say at 14. This team has serious issues.

  7. The only guard we have that can drive and create is Pedulla. And defense looks just like last year. This is not a good basketball team. Be lucky to finish .500.

  8. It’s still very early but these are the types of losses that can keep you out if the NCAA tourney if you’re expecting to be a bubble team.

    Similar to previous seasons, when the team gets in a shooting slump they tried to shoot their way out of it last night. Don’t understand why you don’t work it into to Kidd, who SC struggled to stop in the post most of the night. Other alternative would have been to get something going to the basket but this team has really limited options on that front.

  9. Slow starts seem to be contagious for Tech. Not getting off that last shot was awful. Early, I know but looks like we’re a bottom third in the conference type of team.

  10. Catoor was 4-12 and 3-10 from 3 in 40 minutes of playing time. That’s a big problem when you lose by 2.

    1. Hard to blame the player when he the coach gives him no breaks. That many minutes has to effect his defense and shooting. MY is clueless when it comes to rotations.

      1. One thing CMY Isn’t is clueless

        Rice screwed this team. He’s a quitter. I just wish he’d quit last year and CMY could’ve gone after a portal replacement

  11. If our guards can’t defend better than we did tonight we will struggle mightily against decent teams. USC is picked last in their league. CMY should have had Kidd in game at end instead of Poteat .

  12. Disappointing that we could not even get a shot off on the last play to tie or win the game.

  13. Not impressed last night. This is the kind of early season out-of-conference games Tech needs to play. Learned more about the team than playing a dozen Cupcake U’s. What we saw/learned last night was not encouraging. Allow 56+% shooting from the field, 47+% from 3? We were told defense was an emphasis this preseason. When South Carolina needed a score, they got it, and usually quite easily. Yes CMY, “we’ve got a long way to go”; very, very long.

  14. It is still early and things can get better. But, when we admire our “depth in the front court”, to me it’s code for we have a bunch of decent players, none of which are nearly as good as Mutts or Basile, despite the critique of Basile on D. Those guys were a huge part of our offense. Took a lot of shots and made them at a high % and were a threat from 3, especially Basile. Credit Pedulla but we can’t rely on our point guard to also carry us offensively. I have been hearing that Brandon R. will give us needed depth at PG and allow Pedulla to play fewer minutes. When your point guard is also your top offensive weapon, you won’t be able to sit him out. BR played 2 minutes tonight. When would we have brought him in without losing ground? This is 3 PGs in a row from the same mold and size – Murphy, Pedulla and now BR. I think they are great for our offensive system. But, they don’t have the size and athleticism to guard most ACC PGs. Not their fault. SC was 11-21 last year. Are they better than any ACC team will we play?

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