Virginia Tech shot the lights out on Sunday afternoon in Blacksburg in its 98-76 win over Wofford, the final tune-up before heading to Orlando for a Thanksgiving tournament.
“We were a lot more fluid today than we were against Campbell,” Tech head coach Mike Young said after the victory.
After scoring just 60 points on 38 percent shooting in Wednesday’s win over Campbell, the Hokies (3-1) couldn’t seem to miss against the Terriers (2-2), knocking down 57 percent of their shots (33-of-58). They were especially spectacular in the second half, hitting on 19 of their 27 attempts (70%) and getting to the foul line 17 times.
Four Tech players scored in double figures, led by Lynn Kidd’s 20 points. The 6-foot-10 center from Gainesville has been a double-digit scorer in each of Tech’s four games this season, and he was efficient again against Wofford, hitting on six of his eight shots while making all eight of his free throws. He had seven rebounds and three assists, too, and did not turn the ball over.
Kidd is the sixth player in Tech basketball history with the 20-7-3-0 stat line, joining pretty good company: Shawn Smith, Zabian Dowdell, A.D. Vassallo, Malcolm Delaney and Keve Aluma.
“He has worked really hard to put himself in this position,” Young said of Kidd. “I’m not surprised. I am elated for our team, I’m elated for him.”
Sean Pedulla was next with 19 points. The main driving force behind the team’s second-half burst, he scored 13 of his points after recess. He was limited to just 11 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, but once he returned, he lit it up. He knocked down nine of his 16 attempts and finished with five rebounds and two assists to just one turnover.
True freshman Brandon Rechsteiner played well in his stead. Between nine first-half minutes and seven in the later portion of the contest, Rechsteiner had six points from two 3-pointers and dished out two assists while not turning the ball over.
“We’ve talked about that next man up mentality, and I thought Brandon did a great job of just managing the game,” Pedulla said of Rechsteiner. “He hit a nice shot. He just managed the game really well against a better Wofford [team] than we’ve been playing a little bit.”
Hunter Cattoor also continued his streak of hot shooting. After making four of his last five on Wednesday against the Camels, he was 4-of-7 against the Terriers and finished with 17 points, three assists, two rebounds and a steal. All four of his makes came in the first half, which helped jumpstart the Hokies.
Tyler Nickel also got in the action, scoring 14 points on a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown and adding five free throws on seven attempts. Two of his threes came in transition off turnovers, and after missing the Campbell game due to an illness, he looked like himself.
“Playing with these guys is so fun and easy because everybody’s willing to share the wealth,” Nickel said. “Guys like Hunter in transition, someone that’s such a threat to shoot the ball himself, knowing that he brings that attention and looking for other guys and trusting me to make plays and make shots.”
The quartet of Kidd, Pedulla, Cattoor and Nickel scored 70 of the Hokies’ 98 points (71%) and was a combined 23-of-35 from the floor (66%). They were the four players Virginia Tech leaned on the most in the big shooting night, one in which it was 10-of-20 (50%) from behind the arc and 22-of-26 from the field.
It was a productive evening that came at the right time. The Hokies weren’t necessarily poor from the floor in their first three games — they were 50 percent or better in two of the three — but weren’t necessarily consistent from outside. In the loss to South Carolina and the win over Campbell, they were 11-of-41 (27%) from deep.
Not that they’ll shoot 45 percent all season like they did between the wins over Coppin State and Wofford (23-of-51), but it was a good time to catch fire before traveling to Orlando to participate in a tournament that features six NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago.
“It gives us confidence in things we do well,” Cattoor said. “Going into this game, we knew we could get good motion and good shots out of what our sets are. I think the biggest thing is going down there [to Orlando], when you play in a neutral site, you never know the energy in the gym so you have to bring your own energy. So I think having a game like this, having good confidence going in, can really propel us.
“There’s a lot of good teams down there. It’s going to come down to the defensive end and how well we guard because I feel like on the offensive end, we’re going to be able to compete with a lot of teams. So at the end of the day, if we just hone down on the defensive side, I think we’ll be OK.”
Tech finished with a plus-eight margin on the boards, 36 to 28, but eight of those rebounds came in the final three minutes when Young was giving playing time to younger players and testing different lineups.
Tech also dominated in the paint (44 points to 24), in transition (19 to 1) and off turnovers (23 to 7). Wofford never led, and though it was a single-digit margin for the entire first half and the first two minutes of the second half, the Hokies slowly pulled away.
A 6-0 solo run from Pedulla quickly increased the advantage from nine to 15, and an 8-0 run fueled by Nickel’s two transition threes and a Pedulla layup made it a 21-point game with more than 11 minutes remaining.
“I think the biggest thing is game tells us is when we lock in on a gameplan and we execute, we have a very, very high ceiling,” Nickel said of the win over Wofford, a team that played Tennessee tough earlier in the week. “That’s a good team we just played and beat like that, and teams haven’t been able to beat a good team like that, so it’s big time for us mentally going forward.”
The game really got out of hand in the final seven minutes. Over a four-minute span, the Terriers five consecutive shots, had one blocked and turned it over three times. Meanwhile, the Hokies surged even farther ahead via a 12-0 run, which featured a number of scorers: Kidd, Nickel, MJ Collins, Robbie Beran and Mekhi Long.
Long and Collins finished with six points and three rebounds apiece while Beran added three points and four boards. Mylyjael Poteat also chipped in two baskets and five rebounds while John Camden came off the bench and got a trey down in the final few minutes. Jaydon Young also played but did not score.
Four Terriers scored in double figures: Corey Tripp (14 points), Jackson Sivills (13), Dillon Bailey (12) and Chase Cormier (11). They shot well in the first half — 50 percent (13-of-26) overall, 43 percent (6-of-14) from long range — and kept it close, and they hit 13 threes in the game, but it wasn’t enough to hang with Tech.
The Hokies flip the page to Boise State in the ESPN Events Invitational, a game set for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 on Thanksgiving. They’ll play the winner of Iowa State and VCU in the second round on Friday and will face a team from the opposite side of the bracket — Butler, Florida Atlantic, Penn State or Texas A&M — on the final day on Sunday.
Box Score: Virginia Tech 98, Wofford 76