Virginia Tech Comes Out Flat In First ACC Road Trip At Wake Forest

Tyler Nickel and Virginia Tech got off to a slow start in their loss at Wake Forest on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Virginia Tech came out flat in its first ACC road trip of the season at Wake Forest on Saturday in an 86-63 loss. It’s the fourth straight year the program has dropped its first game away from home in league play.

“Steve [Forbes]’s team played better than my team from the opening tip to the end of it,” Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “… We’ll be better. Have to be better.”

The Hokies (9-4, 1-1 ACC) had a season-high 12 first-half turnovers in LJVM Coliseum, which set the tone. They finished with 19 for the game. Many were forced by the Demon Deacons’ (9-3, 1-0 ACC) full-court pressure, including a five-second violation, but a few were silly mistakes. A handful of lazy passes from Tech turned into 23 points off turnovers for Wake.

“They were a lot more physical than we were,” Young said. “They were a lot more physical and jacked us up. Consequently, timing is poor. Consequently, the ball isn’t arriving on time. Disruptive and something that we’ve got to do a much better job of in that area.”

The two sides were even for the first five minutes until the Deacons used a 6-0 run to push the margin to double-digits, making it 14-4 at the 14:09 mark. Tech cut into the deficit once, but Wake Forest never flinched and soon took off. The real difference was the final few minutes of the first half where the Hokies allowed an 8-0 run that turned a 12-point game into a 20-point one.

The home side took Tech out of its rhythm. “You don’t have to steal it, you just put the pressure on and they’ll give it to you,” Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes said, and he was right, particularly in the case of Sean Pedulla. After missing two of the previous three games due to a foot injury, he had six turnovers and five points in 19 minutes for the Hokies. His backup, true freshman Brandon Rechsteiner, had three giveaways, as did Lynn Kidd.

Wake Forest never let Sean Pedulla and Virginia Tech find a rhythm on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

“They’re a rhythm team on offense, they’re really good at running their stuff, so why would you just let them walk it up and run it every time?”

For the second time this season, the Hokies didn’t hit a 3-pointer in the first half. Their first make was Robbie Beran’s at the 14:46 mark in the second, and they finished with five on 16 attempts. Forbes said the No. 1 rule entering Saturday was no uncontested threes, a box his team checked. He also credited his group’s discipline to fight through screens and not dive under, among other things.

“I have to go back and look, I’m not sure there was one time where our guards went under the whole day, and we’ve been going under on a lot of those,” Forbes said. “… We forced them to shoot those tough twos. They made a couple, but they don’t like shooting those. They like shooting those other ones.”

Though Kidd scored 14 points for Tech, he did so on 7-of-15 shooting, which included a stretch of four consecutive misses in the first half. It wasn’t a terrible shooting performance from the Hokies — they were 24-of-52 (46%) — but there was a stark difference in the first 20 minutes. Wake Forest: 52 percent (17-of-33). Virginia Tech: 38 percent (9-of-24).

The Hokies have been OK out of the gate this year but were punched in the mouth almost immediately in Winston-Salem. For the third time this season, joining losses against Florida Atlantic and Auburn, they never led.

“On the road, every minute is important,” Tech forward Robbie Beran said.

The Virginia Tech starters watched on as Mike Young rotated in some of the other players late in Saturday’s loss. (Ivan Morozov)

Hunter Cattoor tied Kidd for a team-high 14 points, which came on 5-of-7 shooting. Tech’s all-time 3-point leader made just one shot from behind the arc, a credit to Wake Forest’s defense, and it came with 5:53 remaining in the second half. Tyler Nickel was Tech’s other double-figure scorer with 11. He made one trey; most of his points came from the free throw line, where he was 6-of-7.

Beran and Mekhi Long combined for 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks at the four spot. Beran was somewhat of a spark offensively in the second half, knocking down two threes, but it was too little, too late at that point.

“Don’t be misled — when you get your ass beat by 20 in the first, no consolation prizes for playing better basketball, … for going toe-to-toe with anybody, in the second half,” Young said.

Five Wake Forest players reached double-digits, led by Hunter Sallis’ 20. He also chipped in nine assists. Andrew Carr scored 15 and added eight rebounds while Kevin Miller and Cameron Hildreth had 14 apiece. Efton Reid was a problem, too, with 13 and eight, though he spent a chunk of the game in foul trouble.

Virginia Tech and Wake Forest will clash again in Blacksburg on Saturday, March 2, a game set for 5:30 p.m. ET on the CW. The Hokies have a week to rest before traveling to Tallahassee to face a 6-6 Florida State squad that loss to Lipscomb at home on Saturday afternoon.

Box Score: Wake Forest 86, Virginia Tech 63 

43 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. If it weren’t for the magical ACC Tourney run, I think MY’s seat may be getting a little hot. Most teams are good when they shoot the ball well but the good team’s find ways to win when they aren’t playing their best. I think Dan Bonner said it best in the first half when he said VT struggles to get easy baskets. They have to execute offensively at a really high level and play really good defense just to be in games against decent competition.

    Still plenty of time to right the ship but this team, like others previously, seems physically outmatched much of the time. Couple that with MY’s philosophy and I’m not sure if it’s going to win consistently in the ACC.

  2. Losing is one thing. Coming out with zero energy and intensity and getting blown out in 10 minutes and losing by 800 points is another. It isn’t a mystery that home teams are always energized. MY is having trouble getting his team 2x as amped up to counter that home energy. Same thing has happened 4x. We aren’t that bad. Mentally, we are that bad.

  3. Mostly negative comments as one would expect. Sounds like the grumbling during the first part of the FB season. Let’s see what happens and hang in there Hokies.

    1. CMY is in his 4th season. I see a pattern here. Next up: FSA in Tallhassee. Thje ‘noles alw3ays give us trouble. I don’t like what I’m seeing.

  4. We’re just not allowed to have two shiny toys at the same time. FB is coming back and it looks like BB is going back to normal too.

  5. This is for the mailbag–

    They don’t have the athleticism & physicality to match up w/ top tier teams aka~ FAU-Auburn-Wake. Been like this last 2 seasons. Mutts and prior to that Aluma masked lot mistakes. Dilemma is recruiting players to Coach MY system or better athletes ??

    My Q? is what should the staff focus more on? Athletes like Buzz had but not necessarily great shooter or stick to recruiting for MY system??

  6. Noticed Wake’s defense extended well beyond the 3 point line. That’s when we need someone who can break it down off the dribble and create scoring chances. Also don’t have a four who can consistently make 3s as Basille did last year. I’m thinking we may not have the talent to run with the big boys.

  7. Hate to say it but the roster is flawed. Shows how much we miss Mutts and Basile’s scoring and ball movement. Replaced by Long and Beran and neither can score along with Collins and you have problems. We have played 4 good teams this year and blown out by 3 of them

    1. Been saying it for too long…HS recruiting has been simply bad in the MY era. He can’t recruit the HS ranks. Now, he finally did get a good player for next yr, but we are 3 players short of being a competitive ACC team. If it wasn’t for the greatest tournament run ever, the MY record looks really shakey outside of that. I always hear, “Wait until he gets his players in,” for all Hokie sports…the same has been said of MY. His players have left little to be desired. You have to be more invested in recruiting ACC level players…I think he thought he was going to recruit like the So-Con and he could win that way. He can win that way, vs lower comference teams..not consistently against P5

  8. Finally – something to gripe about. Wouldn’t want the glow of 41-20 to last too long.

    There have been plenty of games like this around college basketball so far this year. FGC beat FAU yesterday. Look at games that Duke and UNC have lost. But – this was a very good WF team that won.

    In any case – it was a sad game to watch.

    BTW – things could be worse. We could be FSU fans!

  9. I don’t know what this says about the coach….him and his teams are hard to define.

    Too early though to draw a conclusion on this years version, but that was ugly.

  10. I still think we have a heck of a coach in MY. Yes the team had another horrible game. This team has a thin margin for error. Just not as talented as past teams. They need to learn to play with more grit and physicality. They will get better and it must start with better guard play. Don’t know what has happened with Pedulla but he is having a bad year. I hope things get better for him and the team. Don’t lose faith in December when February and March are more important.

  11. OMW, where to begin with this embarrassment. Full disclosure, I switched to football at half. I was so ill by then, I would have needed a barf bag for the 2nd half.

    Pedulla 1st half stats: 1 for 7 from field, 0 for 3 from 3; 1 assist; 5 TO’ s (probably 6 as he threw a near-impossible-to-catch pass at Kidd’s feet that was likely assigned as his TO). Sean continues to do the unacceptable things he’s recently been doing. PT needs serious re-evaluation. Admittedly, Rechsteiner’s line was not stellar; but, the above from your senior PG in a half? Jeez.

    Defensively, team failed to do ALL the things CMY stated, in pregame interview, that they had to do and did all the things he stated they couldn’t afford to do.

    For weeks I had been looking to this game as a barometer for this team’s place in the ACC mix. Guess we have the answer. Cupcake OOC games are pointless. No one dispises Dook mbb more than I; but, at least their program challenges themselves in the ‘preseason’. Improve your scheduling, Mike.

    We’ll have to see how bad the NET hit will be.

    1. You got your barometer. Love MY but this team has few athletes and average bball players. This will be our team most years unless we get better talent.

  12. The press has been a problem for a few years now. MY doesn’t play or have enough players at the same time who can handle the rock and dribble through it, unless, they play both Pedulla and Rechsteiner. Sure, you have to pass, but need to get across half court and attack. The bottom line is the only way to get a team out of the press is to attack and score; not stop and setup the offense. Teams will do this all season if MY doesn’t attack.

  13. These MY quotes after getting hammered are getting a bit old “have to play better”. We looked overmatched and not ready. I get Wake is good but even though we are VT (we’re not Kansas for goodness sake!), the fanbase should expect better. This is the third game where we just took the beating and gave up.

  14. Got to let the season play out. Too early to write these guys off. I have confidence in Coach MY.

    One thing I will say though is this team doesn’t have that one guy who can take a defender off the dribble and score. An athletic player who can get to the rim as well as pull up and hit a jumper. The teams VT has lost to this season seem to have had at least one or more of those type of guys.

    1. I think Hunter can take people one on one. The problem is he has to play defense so hard I think he isn’t able to play offense as hard. That said, he needs to shoot more too.

    2. I think that MJ Collins has the athleticism that he could do this. He has shown the ability to get to the basket and dunk. He’s just been overall inconsistent offensively this year

  15. Got their a$$es handed to them. One of the worse games I’ve watched. Actually, only watched about half of the game. My expectations have changed from bottom third to the cellar in the ACC. Hope the women can do better.

    1. It’s been obvious since MY got here we don’t have a clue about the press. Additionally, I have heard enough about the great MY “system” that takes about 7 years to learn, in an era where players come and go constantly.

      1. I don’t how great his system is but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the athleticism to run it against higher caliber competition. All I know is right now – and actually in ACC play last year as well – it was an incredibly easy offense to defend. Just extend the 3 pt line and double up when the ball comes inside. Nobody has the speed/burst to make better teams worry about driving into the paint.

    1. me too. 19 to’s led to 23 WF points. Not good. We’ll see if this was a just a crappy showing when they play FSU in Tallahassee. That should be, and better be, a W because the next 3 games are against Miami, Clemson and UVa. UGHHHHHH

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