Virginia Tech Falls At Auburn In ACC/SEC Challenge, 74-57

Mike Young and the Hokies struggled to match Auburn’s size and athleticism on Wednesday night on the road. (Virginia Tech athletics)

AUBURN, Ala. — Virginia Tech struggled to contain Auburn’s size and athleticism on Wednesday night in the ACC/SEC Challenge, falling 74-57 in its first road test of the season.

“Their length is real,” Tech head coach Mike Young said after the loss. “We didn’t handle it very well. I will look forward to going back and looking at it. We had the same kind of performance Sunday in Orlando. We’ve got to improve. I’ve got a good offensive team. I got to coach it better.”

The Hokies (5-3) never really found a rhythm offensively. They got off to a slow start, turning it over three times on their first four possessions, and against a well-balanced Tigers (5-1) team, they never recovered.

Tech finished 28 percent from the floor, the second-worst mark in the Mike Young era, marginally ahead of the 27 percent from the 2019-20 game at UVa. Thanks to stretches of OK defense — Auburn shot just 37 percent in the first half and 41 percent in the second — it was about a 15-point margin for most of the way.

“I feel like we just couldn’t make shots,” Tech freshman guard Jaydon Young said. “Struggles that everybody has. They came out early, they were making a lot of shots, playing really hard. So it was kind of hard to fight back from that. They’re a really good team. When we’re not making shots, it’s hard to beat other teams that’s really good.”

Auburn beat Tech just about everywhere. Johni Broome was a menace inside, finishing with 30 points (11-of-19 FG) and 13 rebounds, good for his 15th consecutive double-double. He was the best player on the floor and helped the Tigers dominate inside; they finished with 42 paint points to the Hokies’ 14. Lynn Kidd never got established and finished with just six points.

The Hokies never established Lynn Kidd against Auburn. (Virginia Tech athletics)

The Hokies struggled on the perimeter too. Sean Pedulla had arguably his worst game in a Tech uniform, finishing 0-of-9 with seven turnovers to just one assist. He seemed to force a number of opportunities, and the crowd chanting his name after he airballed a 3-pointer just piled on. As a result, Young turned to true freshman Brandon Rechsteiner, who he said thought played “quite well,” and gave him 12 minutes.

“He’s not playing very well,” Young said of Pedulla. “… You know how good he is, you know how important he is to our team. I take a lot of responsibility there. I’ve got to get to him. He’s tough. He has great intentions. He’s pressing. He’s struggling. We all go through tough spells as players. … I’ll get him taken care of.”

Tyler Nickel (0-of-5, three turnovers) couldn’t get going either. Hunter Cattoor was OK with a team-high 16 points but scored seven of that from the free throw line; from the floor, he was 4-of-11 and just 1-of-6 from three.

With sophomore guard MJ Collins out with a knee injury he suffered against Florida Atlantic in Orlando — Young said he expects Collins back on Sunday in the ACC opener vs. Louisville (4 p.m. ET, ACC Network) — there was even less depth than normal. Fortunately, Young gave Tech some good minutes. The former standout at Greensboro Day was 3-of-4 from long range and scored nine points, and he looked fluid out on the floor in his first road game.

“Really just staying ready,” Young said of his performance. “Not really dwelling on it and just being ready when my number’s called. I feel like I prepared enough so when my number was called, I was ready.”

“Been doing it a long time,” Mike Young said of Jaydon Young. “Those freshmen, there’s some peaks and valleys. I thought Rechsteiner was good tonight, helped our team. That is certainly a positive with a man down.”

Jaydon Young played pretty well for the Hokies in his first road trip. (Virginia Tech athletics)

John Camden also gave the Hokies a tiny boost with a nine-point performance, including a 2-of-3 night from deep. But the offensive struggles of Kidd (2-of-6), Pedulla and Nickel were hard to overcome, and Robbie Beran (0-of-1) and Mylyjael Poteat (1-of-4) were almost non-factors on that end. The only other bright spot at times was Mekhi Long, who had five points and seven boards in 18 minutes off the bench.

Virginia Tech was overwhelmed, however. It got behind early — Auburn led 18-4 not even seven minutes into the game — and couldn’t recover. Though it won the battle on the boards, 44-40, it never had a chance to control the tempo between turnovers and fouls. (There were 47 fouls for the game, which led to 67 free throws.) The Tigers had 30 points off Tech’s mistakes and another 26 off second-chance opportunities.

Outside of Broome, though, the next highest-scoring Tiger was Chad Baker-Mazara off the bench with 15 points. Tre Donaldson also contributed nine while Denver Jones had eight. It’s the first time this year Auburn’s shot below 41 percent.

“I don’t know that it sustained us, but better,” Young said of his defense. “I thought our defense in Orlando against Boise State and Iowa State was very, very good. Very good in the first half against FAU, who’s really good. … We’re trending in a good direction. We’ll need that on Sunday against the Cardinals.”

In some ways, it felt like déjà vu after the Hokies got whipped by the Owls. It was another poor result against a more physical, athletic team that made life difficult for Tech on the offensive end of the floor. Tech didn’t quite roll over like it appeared to do against FAU, which kept the score somewhat close on the Plains, but it never felt like Young’s crew had a chance after the first few minutes.

“They run really hard stuff to guard, but there’s a certain way to guard them,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “I thought we did an outstanding job. … That team doesn’t turn the ball over. They turn the ball over eight times a game. And we were able to… again, the way the kids bought in and how hard they worked, that fits in with our depth. It made it difficult offensively.”

Tech now turns to Sunday’s meeting with Louisville, a 4-3 team who beat Bellarmine by five on Wednesday night. It’s a chance for the Hokies to start off league play on a positive note.

Box Score: Auburn 74, Virginia Tech 57

21 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. The way Auburn was playing, I felt it looked like men vs boys. They had much more athleticism, length, and speed. I think the hostile environment and tight defense totally rattled Padulla and several others.

  2. Regression every year. Losing players every year. Recruiting down.Don’t play D.
    Why does CMY get a pass?
    He must go.

    1. Take it somewhere else troll. He’s the 2nd best coach we’ve had in a long time. It’s a long season, let’s see if they start to gel more. In MY we trust!

  3. Auburn was well rested and loaded for bear last night. We have been out of sync for the last 2 games. We really miss the ability to post a big guy (Aluma, Mutts) at the foul line with the ability to drive to the bucket with authority or to dish out to a shooter on the wing when the defense collapses into the middle of the lane.

    1. Great point. I feel like that person could potentially be Beran or Long but I haven’t seen anything yet that makes me feel they are instinctive enough to be effective.

  4. Auburn had better basketball players. Auburn had better athletes. Auburn played fast and decisively. Auburn played more intensely. Auburn players never stopped moving and believed in each other and made each other better.

    VT was the opposite of everything above. Coach needs to a) Figure out who he has and what they are capable of. b) Teach Pedulla how to be a point guard, not a #3 (which is how he plays).

    Not to be hard on Sean, but he MUST realize that when he drives and shoots a nutty shot, rather than shooting, he has 3 guys open because he’s drawn defenders to him. But he chooses to shoot. Every time. And his decision to shoot is clearly before he even drives…he’s shooting and that’s that…there is no awareness…like a dog with a bone. He alone could dramatically improve this teams performance by simply drawing defenders and dumping it or popping it out and TRUSTING his teammates to make plays.

    1. And by the way, coach, please, please, please call time out right away…do not wait until the team is down 10. One of the things that made coach K great which I was so impressed by is that if Duke was even only 1 minute into a game and he saw something material he didn’t like (repetitive mistake, no intensity, team looks lethargic, other team reels off 4 quick points off turnovers) HE WOULD CALL TIME OUT. He would give his team the business, and then they came out with a different attitude and shored it up. Why does CMY never do this?

      1. This exact point about not calling timeouts quick enough has always been my biggest and sometimes only gripe about Coach Young. Always seems to wait until it hits double digits to finally call one and then it’s too late.

  5. Looking like a very average team so far. Didn’t expect world beaters but this team will be at the bottom third of the ACC unless there is a big turn around. The ladies have a big test tonight. Hope the refs are ready to call some fouls against LSU. Not holding my breath on that one. Strange how their top player after being suspended for 3 games is suddenly okay to go against Tech. Just another day in the “look the other way” sec.

  6. No biggie as I would rather the team struggle now and get their chemistry together for the conference schedule. We have problems for sure but I think it is more of newer guys not meshing with the guys that were already here – that will get better.

    1. Great point. It was painful to watch, but you could see they all really “want it”. They are just kind of spastic out there right now. No groove. No flow.

  7. Beran has to be removed from the starting line up…this is an 8 game sample size now and his fouls per game are nearly matching his points per game (3). He’s hit a grand total of 1 three pointer on the year thus far, so we’re trotting out a starting 5 with 3 non-shooters (Collins, Kidd, Beran)….a typical MY offense is 4 or even 5 out, this roster has none of that skill level which makes the Rodney Rice departure all the more confusing….how would he NOT see major minutes on this team?!?!?!

    1. Agree on the 4 out… The thing is, playing Pedulla, Cattoor, Long, Beran with Kidd, gets you 4 guys who are 35-40% or so 3 shooters career wise. So we have the ability to go 4 out but it just ain’t working. I think this starts with the D we’re facing and a PG who is just not running the offense very well. It sure looks like ball movement is much better with Rechsteiner in the game. Will be interesting to see where MY goes from here on out given he started BR in the 2nd half.

      1. The problem is you’ve got 5 guys on the floor who are, at best, average athletically. There is nobody to take the pressure off the others when going up against a much more athletic team. Replacing them with another unathletic guy isn’t really going to change things. Maybe Mike Young can figure it out, but I suspect this year’s BB team will look a lot like this year’s football team – world beaters vs teams with similar or lesser talent, but will struggle to compete with more athletic teams. Basketball skills and a good offensive scheme can only work so long and so often when you don’t have athletic Jimmy’s and Joe’s.

        1. tend to agree, we just don’t have the caliber athletes….and for the record, LOVE Mike Young and he is a fantastic coach….however, in year 5 for the overall talent level to be this low on top of the departures of Rodney Rice and even Darren Buchanan last year, its a very concerning red flag especially in the NIL era

  8. Difficult to say up on a weeknight with that kind of start against a tough SEC team. Seems some of the bench made larger contributions that typically seen in box score which is good. Pedulla is in a funk, he’s too good for this to last long. Perhaps trying to hard. Other starters need to step up and help or step aside. Go Hokies!

    1. I was exhausted aftr a poor night’s sleep and poor start by the Hoklies…went to bed in the first half. Looking forward to a better showing from the ladies tonight.

  9. No surprise when we play very athletic teams that Pedulla and Nickel play terrible. Pedulla is a fine player, but he is not a PG…he doesn’t distribute, boggs down an offense with too much dribbling, he has periods of terrible shot selection, and he can’t guard athletic players. Been saying this for awhile, we have athleticism issues. Auburn and FAU exposed us bad. Recruiting has killed us. We can blame the portal players, but ultimately you have to look at the head whistle and wonder why, when he has been here lomg enough to construct his own roster, do we have a small conference type roster?

    1. Highly agree on Pedulla – he wants to be a scoring guard and not a PG. Didn’t watch the game but I imagine once he missed a couple of 3’s that he started driving the ball into a crowd and shot no matter what. I think it’s time to give minutes to the freshman who wants to be the PG and not lead the team in scoring. Yeah, Pedulla gets 15 ppg but a lot of that time is when the other players just sit around and watch. Why would you (as the other 4 teammates) run the offense when you know he’s going to just fire it up without a pass?

  10. Pedulla is tough as they come and has won games for us…this year excessive dribbling and too much 1-5 it seems but what may be causing it is we are getting ZERO offensively from Beran and the 3 spot so he and Hunter feel they have to force it and it shows. Hope we turn it around but portal guys so far have produced below average

    1. Right, Sean’s horrible night was, in part, due to the fact that he had no where to go with the ball. We were guarded by better athletes at every position. CMY can talk about his “good offensive team” but it’s no apparent what team he’s talking about. Maybe the non-starters that went 9-19 from the floor as opposed to 6-31 from the starters?

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