Virginia Tech Thoroughly Outplayed In 34-Point Loss To No. 19 FAU

Sunday’s championship game against FAU got away from the Hokies in a hurry at the start of the second half. (Virginia Tech athletics)

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Virginia Tech was thoroughly outplayed by No. 19 Florida Atlantic on Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the ESPN Events Invitational, losing 84-50.

“Your defense has to travel, night-in and night-out,” Tech head coach Mike Young said after the loss. “We were really good on Friday [against Iowa State], I thought we were very good over the long haul against Boise [State], who I think both are NCAA Tournament teams. We got back on our heels, we didn’t respond very well, and that is something we can learn from as we get out of here.”

After the two sides went toe-to-toe for the first 16 minutes of the contest, the Owls (5-1) ripped off a 7-0 run to end the first half and took a 32-24 lead into the locker room.

All seemed OK for the Hokies (5-2) at intermission — Young said he told his bunch to “hang in there” — but FAU blew Tech’s doors off with a 12-0 run over the first 4:29 of the second half. That stretched the margin to 20 points, 44-24, and at that point, it felt over.

Tech fought back, cutting it to as few as 13, but another giant run from FAU, this one of 15-0 over four-plus minutes, made it more than a 30-point contest. It’s Tech’s first 30-point loss since Buzz Williams’ group fell to No. 17 West Virginia in December 2014 by 31.

In the first half, the Owls were 48 percent (13-of-28) from the field but just 3-of-10 from behind the arc. It was an even battle on the boards (16-all) and in turnovers (seven apiece). The difference was the Hokies couldn’t get the 3-pointers to fall (0-of-8) and were just 10-of-28 (36%) shooting.

Mylyjael Poteat and the Hokies struggled to score against FAU. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Then everything started to snowball. Florida Atlantic slowly heated up and started the second half 5-of-9. At the same time, Virginia Tech couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. It endured a scoreless drought of 9:30, from 4:39 in the first half to 16:09 in the second, and missed 12 consecutive shots in that span — almost a quarter of the game.

The Hokies didn’t knock down a single 3-pointer with any of their normal rotational players, missing their first 15 attempts. Their first make came from true freshman Brandon Rechsteiner with 3:24 left, continuing the streak of 462 games in a row with a 3-pointer, which dates to Feb. 2003.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” said Tech guard Hunter Cattoor, who finished with a team-high 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-8 from three. “Shooting the ball and scoring is just a little part of what the game of basketball is. I could’ve been better in areas, getting teammates open, getting assists, on the defensive end. It sucks not making shots, but there’s more to the basketball game than that.”

Hokies in attendance seemed relieved when the final buzzer sounded, signaling the end of FAU’s thrashing. It was a depressing afternoon for those involved, one that originally started with promise after Tech played so well against Boise State and Iowa State on Thursday and Friday, respectively. After the first 16 minutes, it felt like the Hokies and Owls would trade baskets for 40 minutes in a game that reached the 80s.

Instead, while Florida Atlantic scored 84 points, the Hokies couldn’t eclipse 50. Sean Pedulla joined Cattoor in scoring 11 points, but no one else reached double figures. Lynn Kidd was next with nine points (4-of-8) while Mylyjael Poteat contributed six (2-of-3).

For the most part, Virginia Tech got the opportunities it wanted from deep — “I thought we did [get decent looks] in the first half,” Young said — but didn’t get them down.

FAU didn’t make anything easy for MJ Collins and the Hokies on Sunday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

“They did get a couple of looks in the first half that were clean and open,” Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May said of Tech’s offense, “but when you switch and get them out of their system a little bit, they’re not as comfortable because their system’s so good. So I do think we defended really, really well, about 90 percent of those possessions, and then the other 10 percent, I think they were kind of looking around to see where our guys were coming from and contesting from because they didn’t give up on any plays.”

A great example of that was a corner 3-pointer from Cattoor with 6:39 remaining in the first half that appeared wide open at first. But 7-foot-1 center Vladislav Goldin closed out at the last second and blocked the shot out of bounds.

It was obvious that the offensive frustration bled over to the defensive side, and FAU shot 65 percent in the second half. In some ways, it felt like a frustrating video game that would result in most people turning off the console. Tech made silly errors at times that felt out of the ordinary.

“Just the little things, mental errors that you can’t commit in a championship game on a Sunday like this,” said Cattoor of what went wrong. “Taking care of the ball, taking good shots, making sure we’re getting back on defense. Little stuff like that adds up in a game and it can slip away real quick.”

The Hokies and Owls were almost direct opposites, the former struggling while the latter succeeded. Four players finished in double figures for Florida Atlantic, led by Alijah Martin’s 17. Goldin had 14 (7-of-7 FG) while Johnell Davis scored 12 and Bryan Greenlee had 10.

Unlike the loss to South Carolina in Charlotte two weeks ago, Tech just didn’t have it. The players seemed completely out of the game as it wore on, not unusual when shots don’t fall. But the margin quickly grew from 15 points to 30.

Patrick Wessler got his first collegiate minutes against the Owls. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Young got some of his bench players into the game down the stretch. Rechsteiner hit the aforementioned three and played 10 minutes. Fellow true freshman Jaydon Young played five, missing his lone 3-point attempt, while John Camden knocked down a trey as the clock winded down. Seven-footer Patrick Wessler, the redshirt freshman center, also played his first collegiate minutes and knocked down a free throw.

“Every minute they’re on the floor is beneficial,” Young said.

Young did not have an update afterwards on MJ Collins, who took a hard fall with 4:29 remaining and had to be helped to the bench.

Virginia Tech has to quickly flip the page ahead of its road trip to Auburn on Wednesday (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The Tigers are No. 16 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings as of Sunday night and are a top-30 team on both ends of the floor. It’ll be the first meeting since December 1999.

“We’re going to have to [flush this game from memory],” Cattoor said. “Auburn’s a tough team. Win or loss, we were going to have to do that regardless. You turn the page and we’re going to get back to Blacksburg and we’re going to have two good practices and be ready for them on Wednesday.”

Box Score: No. 19 Florida Atlantic 84, Virginia Tech 50 

54 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The conversation was about CMY’s first year’s team vs. this year. What does that have to do with Bede and company making it to the dance when Brent was the coach?

    And our current starting 5 would kick your starting 5’s ass. Nollley would shoot 3-20 with 10 turnovers.

    1. My apologies…we’re on the same side here. I’m just expressing my frustration. I think CMY is a heck of an offensive coach, I just can’t figure out why he seems to struggle adapting his style to accommodating top level talent. I think with Rice and Basile on this team we’re in the top 25. Oh well, I guess we just can’t have nice things.

      1. Again, your points are valid. You’re just looking at the empty half of the glass. I’m focusing on the full half, because Tech has never had sustained success on a national scale (two Sweet 16s in our history). Making the NCAA Tourney is the goal. We want to be able to make runs and be a Top 25 staple, but that’s a HUGE next step that only a relative handful of the 350+ NCAA division I schools have taken.

        As for CMY’s “struggle adapting his style to accommodating top level talent”, ask blue blood Loovul how that works. In the past three years, they’ve lost more high-star recruits than Tech has ever had. At Tech, Nolley clearly wanted to be the big dog on the team no matter what, and it led to him transferring twice and not being drafted. We don’t really have much info on Rice, but it’s certainly premature to blame CMY. Rice got hurt multiple times then arrested. Maybe a change of scenery is best for both parties.

        Competing to be in the top five of the ACC is a “nice thing”. Consistently doing it would be even better.

  2. Thinking FAU not as good as we made them look and we’re not as bad as we looked. Which puts us at about .500 this year. We’re lacking athleticism and players that can break down defenses and create easy shots for themselves or others. Could be ugly at Auburn this week.

    1. I disagree in that FAU is every bit as good as they looked. They brought back almost everybody from last year’s Final Four team. Great teams like FAU make you pay when your game is off and boy, did they make us pay. I do agree that we are not as bad as we looked. We also had a lot of good looks and couldn’t throw it in the ocean.

      1. Yeah. “Thoroughly Outplayed” is a generous understatement. We got smashed about as much as we did to UVA in FB. Hopefully we learn, get, better, and get hot at the right time.

  3. The display yesterday is the culmination of the decline from what Buzz had built at tech. While Buzzketball wasn’t consistently attractive, it was built on tough minded, athletic teams that could go into any game and beat anyone. CMY’s team however are soft and built for finesse; and this system has a ceiling. Our recent teams are designed to light it up against lesser opponents but will always struggle against tough minded athletic teams; and in tough situations. We’re like a strong mid major team only designed to get up for about 2 or 3 games per year. This finesse mindset particularly reveals itself in road games where we’ve struggle to win almost none of our true road tests in the past two seasons. Buzz’s teams defeated true #1s and made tournament runs. Absent of our ACC championship run which I’ll admit is hard to explain given it is a strong exception, we struggle to claim marquee wins. What’s worse is that when CMY has recruited tough minded athletic players he struggles to keep them. So I’m not sure where solution lies, but we’re clearly in a decline.

    1. I get your points; they are well thought-out and valid. But…”Absent of our ACC championship run which I’ll admit is hard to explain given it is a strong exception”. You CAN explain it, if you want to. We’ve beaten five Top 10 teams in CMY’s four years at Tech. We are 3-2 versus Duke and UVa the past three years. But you made the argument you wanted to.

      1. After his first two seasons which were pretty sub-par, Buzz has won 25+ games in each of the last two seasons; in arguably a tougher conference. He finished 2nd in the NIT in his 3rd season and finished 2nd in the SEC last season. If you looked at the trends, it’s easy to see his team is getting better. Can you honestly argue that our program is improving?

        If we’re being honest you’d take the guy who has gotten to the sweet 16 three times and reached the elite 8 once, over the guy who has only won a single NCAA Tournament game with 5 more tries.

        1. No I wouldn’t. Buzz did those mainly with other teams besides Tech and he ran the program into the ground before he left. Buzz is in it for Buzz.

          1. I hear you. I guess I don’t mind that Buzz is in it for Buzz. If he helps us then our interests are aligned in my opinion. In his last season at VT we advanced to the sweet 16. Not sure how you mean when you say “he ran the program into the ground before he left”.

          2. I wouldn’t aghree that Buzz, “ran the program into the ground.” To begin with, he inherited…nothing from JJ. Even thohugh he didn’t leave MY much, Young had a .500 season in his first year and has not had a losing season. I’m also told thatBuzz recommended MY as his replacement. Tony Bennnet is also a “system” coach who doesnot chase McD AA’s and he won a NC. We got out of the ACC gate slowly each of the past 2 years, one of which ended w/an ACC title. Let’s see how we start this year.

      2. Sure Buzz never won an ACC championship, and I don’t want to gloss over how impressive that is for CMY to achieve, still it isn’t carte blanche to run the program back into the ground. We (Hokies) tend to fall in love with mediocrity as long as it’s sprinkled with a glimmer of hope.

        Let’s start asking some tough questions. Why isn’t anyone curious about how an NBA hopeful (Rodney Rice), would rather blow an entire year than to suit up for CMY this season?

        1. Had Mike Jones stayed, so would have RR. One must understand the mentality of PGCO kids, who grow up in the shadow of UMD, in a community that is like them which hasmore cultural appeal than Blacksburg before one critcizes MY as the reason they leave. We werenot able to prosper in the BE for similar reasons.

  4. VT looked tired vs a final four team that returned ALL of its players – who played fresh. In addition – FAU were ‘shooting’ and VT was just ‘throwing the ball towards the basket and hoping. As previously stated FAU LOST to Bryant. Go figure..

    1. I think you’re on to something. FAU is a very good team as evidenced by the fact they were a F4 outfit last year that returns most of those starters. He also are working several new players into our rotation. We were gassed . If you live by the 3, you die by it. We were what, 2-15? FAU had to travel 3 ours, by vehicle. We flew. Hats off to FAU. That said, we had 2-good games vs. BSU and ISU. We won’t be playing 3 games in 4 days again until tournment time. Move on..

      1. We flew in earlier in the week and already played two games. We also have a 10 man rotation which keeps guys fresh. Kids shouldn’t get gassed at this level; as evidenced by Pedulla’s ability to play 36 mins per game last year. Absent of Pedulla, there was a visible talent disparity. It’s time we come to terms with this and encourage CMY to do whatever it takes to keep talented players on the roster.

        1. Agree that the number of high level recruits who leave is perplexing but sometimes those guys are “me” guys like “take it to the next level” Nolley.

          1. I guess there’s just a difference in preference here. I don’t really mind “me” guys if they’re helping you while helping themselves. At some point if seemingly all the top talents appear to be “me” guys, maybe that’s part of the greatness DNA strand. You need to be able to work with all types to achieve greatness.

            Take Pedulla for example; have you noticed that CMY tends to be mostly critical of Pedulla? I may be grasping at straws here, but considering Pedulla is currently our best player and an alpha guy, it tracks that CMY might have issues with alpha talents.

          2. Maybe MY should look abroad in order to sidestep the cultural issues that work against in w/domestic players.

  5. Bad night, even embarrassing, but look at consolation match: A&M 73, Iowa St 69 with Iowa St ahead by 10 at the half and up by as much as 21!

    FAU was ‘in the zone’ while Tech was still doing warm ups. GO HOKIES!!

  6. This game is a reminder that how you lost or won matters in the big picture and this loss looks bad no matter how good you think FAU is. Good thing is it is still November.

  7. I’d say this is the least talented roster under CMY. I do think they can improve during the season but will be tough to even make the NIT. Losing Rice hurt some but some portal misses really limited this team.

    I hope they make marked improvements before ACC play starts in earnest.

      1. Are you sure about that? That team had Aluma, Nolley, Cone, Alleyne, Bede, Radford, PJ Horne, Ojiako, Kabongo. They were young but I’d say far more talented and athletic than this crew

        1. Aluma transferred and had to sit out that year. PH Horne was our starting center, all 6′ 5″ of him. The top returning player was Bede, who averaged 3.8 PPG the previous season.

          1. Give me Nolley, Alleyne, Bede, Radford, and Horne. I’ll take those five over our current starting 5. With the exception of Pedulla, and maybe Kidd, it’s a roster full of spot up shooters. The system looks great when we have space to shoot and when we’re not weighed down chasing athletic teams around on defense. When we play teams that can close out quickly, our stats drop off significantly. This is where Radford and Nolley excelled because they could create their own shots.

            Remember that Bede and co made it to the dance. I’ll concede if our current team equally dances.

            1. No way. Nolley was a me-shoot first guy, Bede is equivalent to Collins offensive wise, Radford can’t shoot and Horne transferred to UGA (a terrible team) and hardly saw the floor as the season went on.

              Bede went to Dance because of Blackshear and Robinson.

  8. The defense was not great in the first half. FAU set screens and rolled into the lane and we did not stop it.

  9. It’s a long season, and hopefully we can gel and get hot enough to beat top teams like this later. Still I’m sorry you had to cover this game and write about it! Must be painful. I do appreciate you guys for working so hard, keeping the excellent content flowing, especially over a holiday weekend.

  10. “Outplayed” is putting it kindly. How about totally dominated in all phases of the game. Once FAU got rolling I was just hoping and praying that the margin of defeat would be less than the FAU-A&M game. Oh well, on to the next game.

      1. The were 19-14 last year, 9-9 in conference. They lost to Pitt 59-41 in the first round of the NCAA. I’d say they are a good team, not a really good team. I agree with l1’s comment.

    1. We were a 2-man team. That is all. “We” didn’t run out of juice. I am sure Nickel would have loved more than 2 shot attempts. I double he ran out of juice

  11. We have lost to a team picked to finish last in the SEC and a team that got beat by Bryant 61-52. We are next playing a top 30 team.

    Hard to feel positive about the season.

    1. Idk WTH happened TO FAU vs Bryant but this is the same team that was 1 last second shot from playing for the national championship. They also beat a good Butler team and a VERY good Texas A&M team

  12. “the Owls (5-1) ripped off a 7-0 run to end the first half and take a 32-34 lead into the locker room.” How I wish we were ahead by 2 then, although it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Minor typo I know. Great summary Dave!

  13. To quote coaches explaining past failures; the ball is sticking on offense. Too much dribbling and not enough passing. And I might add too many players standing around on offense. On a number of possessions it seemed we were playing 2 or 3 on 5. Nights like tonight reminds you how good and important Mutts and Aluma were to the team.

    1. The players “standing around on offense” know they will get 2-3 shot attempts all game. They KNOW that the ball either goes into Kidd (not enough) or that Pedulla/Cattoor will shoot. They know this is a 2-man show and everyone else isn’t getting shot attempts unless something changes. Beren, Poteat, Long, and Nickel had a total of 10 shot attempts.

    2. and yes, we were playing 2 on 5.. Cattoor and Pedulla had 29 shot attempts…we had 60 total. Perhaps they need to share the ball. Like Cattoor said, he needed to create more assists.

  14. It was a tough one to watch from the 1st row right behind the Florida Atlantic radio announcer. On to the next one. My favorite moment of the game was Hunter’s dunk

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