After dropping the second game of the season to South Carolina on Friday, Virginia Tech bounced back with a 60-44 victory over Campbell on Wednesday evening in Cassell Coliseum.
“It was a bit of a tractor pull offensively,” Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “Defensively, we were in great spots. … I think our guys were quick to the ball. Did a great job with the very rare exception of four or five possessions. They didn’t score on all of those.
“Offensively, I look forward to going back and seeing it tonight. … We had one of those nights. I didn’t think the ball was sticking, I didn’t think anything was amiss. Let me look at it, but if that’s my biggest concern, I’m in good shape, I feel good about it.”
Lynn Kidd led all scorers with 24 points (9-of-12 FG) and grabbed 15 boards, good for his second career double-double. He’s the first Hokie with that stat line since Zach LeDay had 31 and 15 in 2017 and joins an elite group that includes Dale Solomon, Perry Young, Dell Curry, Ace Custis, Jeff Allen and LeDay.
Kidd’s arguably been the most consistent player for the Hokies (2-1) this season. He’s averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds through three games and is 20-of-25 (80%) from the floor. He was responsible for a good chunk of Tech’s 30 paint points against Campbell (1-2).
“Confidence. He feels good about himself because of the work he’s put in,” Young said of Kidd. “He should feel good his game. … There comes a time in people’s career, I’ve had a bunch of them, when the lights come on. ‘Hey, I can do this.’ That, in turn, generates a greater level of confidence from their teammates.
“He’s a pretty good out for us late in the shot clock, at any point in the shot clock. Flip that thing down there. I’ll tell you something else he’s going to do: If you double him, he’s going to make the right play. He’s going to throw that thing on a line to the other side for a catch-and-shoot or an extra pass.”
Kidd and his frontcourt partner, Mylyjael Poteat (eight points, 3-of-4 FG, three rebounds), were two constants in an otherwise sluggish game. Tech guard Hunter Cattoor also came on strong in the second half; after starting 0-of-4 from behind the arc, he made four of his five second-half attempts and finished with 12 points and four rebounds.
It wasn’t a very entertaining basketball game, however. The two squads combined for just 42 first-half points — Tech led the Camels 26-16 at intermission — and neither team shot above 40 percent.
Campbell was 4-of-21 in the first half (19%) and finished 14-of-51 (28%) for the game. Cattoor and Tech shut down Anthony Dell’Orso, last year’s Big South Freshman of the Year. After dropping 35 points on 11-of-20 shooting against East Carolina on Saturday, he was 2-of-13 and finished with six points and five turnovers.
On the whole, Tech was better defensively than its previous outing against the Gamecocks in Charlotte, though that was somewhat of a low bar — 56% from the field, 10-of-21 from three. Young was content with the effort on that end of the floor — the Camels had more turnovers (16) than made field goals (14) — but his team didn’t exactly face the ’96 Bulls.
Entering Wednesday night, Campbell ranked 323rd in adjusted offensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy. It’s also had more turnovers than assists in all three contests this season. Still, it was good to see Tech get some stops.
“We did a great job of locking into the gameplan,” Poteat said. “Going in, we knew what they wanted to do so, sort of take that away, try your best to take that away. They’ve got a big player [in] Dell’Orso so try to prevent him to getting off as he normally does, so taking that away, taking away what they like to do.”
The lingering question after the 16-point win was the scoring. For the second consecutive game, the Hokies struggled to tickle the nylon in the first half. After a 2-of-14 outing from 3-point range against USC before the break, Tech was 1-of-11 through the first 20 minutes on Wednesday.
That number turned around in the second half — Tech was 3-of-8 after recess — but the early struggles made many ears perk up. Young and Cattoor both agreed that the looks were the right ones — “I thought we had good shots from people we want getting shots from,” Young said — but didn’t fall.
Cattoor described his first four chances from deep in the first half after the game. He characterized the first one as an open look off a drawn-up set and the second as a good opportunity off an extra pass from Sean Pedulla. The third and fourth ones were similar — he came off a flare screen and got a shot up that rattled in and out.
“It was kind of good looks, stuff in our offense,” Cattoor said. “I didn’t feel like I was forcing anything. In that second half, I honestly had the same looks, just happened to fall. Kind of staying in my shot and kind of keeping my mechanics the same.”
Kidd’s inside presence helped break the ice. He had 10 points in the first half and made three of his five attempts while knocking home all four free throws. Poteat chipped in six points on 3-of-4 shooting, too. But Kidd really hit his stride after halftime, nailing 6-of-7 shots and grabbing 12 boards. He’s the first player in the Mike Young era with 15 rebounds in a game; the last to do it was Kerry Blackshear Jr. in the Sweet Sixteen vs. Duke in 2019 (16).
“The more I’ve been in college, the game has definitely slowed down even more,” Kidd said. “Even compared to last year, it’s like slow motion out there sometimes. I see things before they’re even going to happen.
“… With [Justyn] Mutts and [Grant] Basile leaving, I kind of felt like I had to fill those shoes and kind of make up some of their production. I feel that responsibility in a way.”
The Hokies faced a deficit on the boards, 38-34, but it didn’t come back to bite them. The Camels didn’t have a consistent scorer — Elijah Walsh and Alex Kotov led the way off the bench with 10 and nine points each, respectively.
After two big performances to open the season, Pedulla was quiet against Campbell, finishing with five points, five assists, two rebounds, two steals and just one turnover, though he dealt with foul trouble for parts of the contest.
That allowed Tech to play true freshman Brandon Rechsteiner more, and he fared well. Though he wasn’t flashy in his 14 minutes, missing his lone shot, he had two assists and no turnovers. Young said the point guard did exactly what was needed and managed the game.
“Didn’t try to do to much,” Young said of Rechsteiner. “He hit singles, he wasn’t trying to hit one over the left-field wall, and that’s encouraging to see from him.”
Tech got Northwestern transfer Robbie Beran going a little bit more too. He had six points (2-of-5 FG), three rebounds, two steals and an assist. He played almost 28 minutes at the four, a bit of a difference from the previous outing against the Gamecocks where Old Dominion transfer Mekhi Long played more. Long had two rebounds in 13 minutes against Campbell.
“I thought tonight was a step in a good direction,” Young said. “… I thought he was very active. He said a couple of great screens, which sometimes go unnoticed unfortunately, not by me. I like that spot for us, I like Mekhi Long. I thought Robbie was doing some things well. The next time out, it could be Mekhi with those minutes. We’re still mixing and matching, we’re still working at it. We’ll get there.”
Virginia Tech announced before the game Tyler Nickel was unavailable due to an illness. Young mentioned the North Carolina transfer was under the weather on Friday against South Carolina but played anyway, though he wasn’t healthy enough to go in Game 3. However, Nickel is expected to return on Sunday when the Hokies host Wofford (5 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra).
It’ll be the first time Young faces his former school since he took the head job in Blacksburg in 2019. He spent 17 seasons there as a head coach and more as an assistant, finishing with a 299-244 record.
The Terriers (2-1) present quite a challenge offensively, of which Young and his staff are very familiar. Schematically, it’ll be a complex test for a Virginia Tech defense that is still trying to find its footing.
“Obviously, we’re not going to shoot that poorly most games,” Poteat said. “It’s going to be hard to lose a game holding somebody to 44 points, so like I said earlier, if we can just get a complete game, man, good motion offense, get the ball down the hole and play that way on defense, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Box Score: Virginia Tech 60, Campbell 44