Virginia Tech Comes Up Short Against Miami, 75-71

Sean Pedulla scored a career-high 33 points but Virginia Tech came up short against Miami on Saturday. (Jon Fleming)

Virginia Tech came up short against Miami on Saturday in Cassell Coliseum, losing 75-71.

“We did everything we could to keep a body on a body,” Tech head coach Mike Young said after the loss. “Battled. They were a little bit better. Sometimes good offense beats good defense.”

Playing without Hunter Cattoor, who Young said is day-to-day with a head injury, the Hokies (10-6, 2-3 ACC) led the Hurricanes (12-4, 3-2) for most of the first half but could not close out the game.

Tech point guard Sean Pedulla, who had a career-high 33 points and 10 rebounds along with four assists, hit a 3-pointer with 21 seconds remaining that cut the team’s deficit to three, 74-71. After the Canes turned it over on the inbound, the Hokies had a look with five seconds remaining, but MJ Collins’ three from the top of the key rimmed out.

“I thought he didn’t take the better look he had, he kind of gathered himself, which allowed the defender to get a better ability to contest the shot,” Young said of Collins’ look. “But I thought [it was a] pretty good shot, really did.”

Pedulla recorded his third consecutive game of at least 25 points. The only other Tech player to accomplish that in the ACC era is Erick Green, who did it three times in the 2012-13 season. Pedulla’s also the second Tech guard in that span with a 30-10 game, joining A.D. Vassallo, who did it in March 2009 vs. Duquesne, and is the second Tech player since 2004 with back-to-back 30-point games along with Grant Basile, who did so last season.

Sean Pedulla has scored 25-plus points in three consecutive games. He’s the first Virginia Tech player to do that since Erick Green. (Jon Fleming)

The junior has played with an incredible level of confidence since returning from a foot injury he suffered in late December. Young joked that he’s never short of confidence, but Pedulla has 91 points, 16 rebounds, 13 assists and is 31-of-56 (55%) from the floor, 14-of-29 from three (48%) in the month of January.

“I’m just playing super confidently,” Pedulla said. “I know the team needs production out of me and I was kind of displeased with the way I was playing the prior week so just wanted to turn things around and start winning games. I think we’ll be in a good spot, but we just have to finish games and play complete games, but I like where I’m playing. Still too many turnovers, but again, Miami does a good job of that.”

Lynn Kidd joined Pedulla in double figures with 16 points, which came on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting. He scored 14 of those in the second half. However, despite shooting better in the second half — 57 percent as opposed to a 40 percent first-half clip — their offense got stuck at moments in crunch time; they missed three of their last four field goals.

In fact, Pedulla and Kidd combined for 31 of Tech’s 41 second-half points. Collins knocked down a three and made three free throws while Mylyjael Poteat and Robbie Beran each converted layups. Tech seemed to run out of options down the stretch when Miami keyed in on Pedulla and struggled to move the ball late when it mattered. Turning it over eight times in the second half didn’t help. For the game, it had 15 miscues.

“Fifteen turnovers is too many,” Collins said. “… It’s about taking care of the ball. The offensive end was there as far as shot making from Sean, Lynn was getting good looks, but at the end of the day, we have to take care of the ball.”

All in all, it went toe-to-toe with a Canes bunch that was ranked in the top 25 earlier in the year. Matthew Cleveland led Miami with 21 points, Nijel Pack added 19 (and eight rebounds and five assists), Norchad Omier chipped in 14 (and five boards) while Wooga Poplar had 11. Head coach Jim Larrañaga said the difference between his group’s win in Blacksburg versus its loss at home to Louisville on Saturday was practice time.

Lynn Kidd and Virginia Tech were a stop or two away from beating Miami. (Jon Fleming)

All four of the aforementioned players dealt with injuries ahead of the Cardinals. Pack, Omier and Poplar each had sprained ankles while Cleveland had a bad bruise on his leg. They played like they were heathier against Tech, according to their coach.

On the other side, Tech couldn’t overcome 15 turnovers and playing without Cattoor. The guard depth was limited — Young rotated Pedulla, Brandon Rechsteiner, Collins, Tyler Nickel and Jaydon Young in the backcourt. Outside of Pedulla, the Hokies got just 12 points from that group, all of which came from Collins and Nickel.

They were better on the boards (34 to 24) and limited the Canes to 47 percent from the field, 9-of-25 (36%) from three, but Miami’s veterans had answers when needed. Pack hit a runner in the lane with 1:14 left despite Tech just about containing him, which came after Kyshawn George (six points) banked in a three. The Hokies just needed a little bit more.

“They’re a really good team, shoot the ball well,” Pedulla said, “but I think we were in a couple of times, especially in the first half, where we were up eight or nine and we have a chance to have a double-digit lead and we just either turn it over or take a bad shot and just give that lead up. And those leads are priceless. We need to try to do a better job of playing in front and keeping the lead.”

Beran was the other main contributor for Tech. He scored eight points, courtesy of two 3-pointers, and grabbed five rebounds, though he fouled out with four seconds remaining.

The result on Saturday notwithstanding, the Hokies took steps forward in their second and third ACC home games. They beat a top-25 Clemson team at home on Wednesday, overcoming the adversity of losing Cattoor, and were close to pulling out a win over a team that returned pieces from last year’s Final Four squad.

Mike Young, Sean Pedulla, MJ Collins and the Hokies return to the floor against UVa on Wednesday. (Jon Fleming)

The result stings — the body language of Pedulla and Collins after the game made that obvious — but there’s still plenty of basketball left. Players are being forced into previously unforeseen roles, which can be a positive if Cattoor can return and pick up where he left off. Pedulla is scoring the ball at an elite level, Collins is defending the other team’s best perimeter player and guys like Young are getting their feet wet in important ACC games.

Virginia Tech will need all of that, with or without Cattoor, when it travels to Charlottesville on Wednesday to face a Virginia squad in a place the program hasn’t won since Feb. 2018.

“I don’t like 15 turnovers, but I told them, ‘I thought we grew up this week,’” Young said. “I thought I saw some things together in a number of areas, a real uptick, and that can happen. It’s a long year, there’s a lot of trials that teams go through.

“I think we played as well tonight as we played on Wednesday. We didn’t get a couple of breaks that you’ve got to get. You’ve got to make those breaks, we didn’t do that tonight.”

Box Score: Miami 75, Virginia Tech 71

20 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. David, agree with others on yet another nice write-up. Of the TSL team, you’re far and away the best at reporting, recapping Hokie sports events.

    Watched the game in person & have not watched recording. I want to see the ‘invisible rhinoceros’ that floored Pedulla under Tech basket. It happen just below me but mostly obstructed. When I saw him, he looked to be fighting off blacking out. Have been critical of him, as below; but, Lord, you can’t question his toughness.

    Also, I want to confirm that the Miami player walked on the inbounds play. Again, occurred just below me. CMY & staff were going nuts which to me confirmed what I thought I saw. Inbounds official has two damn jobs: count 5 seconds & watch for inbounder violations (stepping on end line or traveling). Yes, officiating is a difficult job; but, jeez, please get the easy stuff correct.

  2. Ok, yes Sean, 33 pts, 10 rebounds, clutch at the end, drawing that open floor foul on Omier (really nice!!!) & on & on & you’re playing “super confiently”. Just try to be more careful with the basketball. Six of your team 15 TO’s is not acceptable for the team’s starting point guard; and don’t try to give Miami credit. Miami didn’t ‘force’ you to throw a pass into the third row seats in 1st half; Jaydon saved your bacon in the 2nd half by jumping out of the house to catch yet another one of those or it would have been 7 out of 16 TO’s. If Miami “does a good job at that” (i.e. forcing TO’s), don’t try to throw difficult, low percentage passes to Lynn in the post. As a basketball purist for longer than you been alive, that assist/TO ratio of 4/6 is a stain on a very nice box score. Be better, man, I know you have it in you!

    1. I tend to agree. Pedulla is so close to being dominant as a point guard and as a shooter. But he HAS to be dominant as a point guard 1st for this team to be better.

  3. Great job as always David. You set records for game report thoroughness.

    One nit – and perhaps I’m being a grumpy old man – but “four records remaining”? Had to look at the ESPN play by play to confirm you meant “4 seconds left”. Maybe a bit too poetic for a game report?

    1. Thanks for reading. That’s actually a typo. Should’ve been seconds. Thanks for pointing that out.

  4. Not being negative here, but let’s just enjoy each win, and keep our expectations to a minimum this year.

    After the WF loss, I just “told” myself that we would be lucky to get into the NIT. So while yesterday’s loss was frustrating, it didn’t ruin my day like it would have if I erroneously expected an NCAA bid.

    The portal transfers, while serviceable, are just not meeting their expectations and thus we are probably a little worse than “expectations” this year. Throw in the fact that we got Rice’d, we should temper our expectations to more around a .500 year.

    1. I’m with you, extremehokie; except that’s where I start every season. My preseason hope is .500 in conference. Win enough away games to balance the home losses to the better teams, which includes Miami.

      I offer this in a positive way Hokie Nation; as with me, embrace the mediocrity. That’s what I thought Whit bought with this coaching hire and that’s what I see we’re getting.
      And before the ‘but-what-about-the-tourney-championship’ retorts, be honest, that increasingly looks to have been a fluke. Which happens in the tournament more often than people probably want to acknowledge; recent example GT & previous example uVA.)

      1. No it wasn’t a fluke. That team went on a late season run that continued into the ACC Tournament where it culminated in boat racing UNC and Duke back to back. That was no “fluke”. They were clearly the best team in that tournament.

        1. I agree, not a fluke which implies luck. But, by fluke, I think he meant the exception and not an indication that our team would consistently compete for an ACC championship. And I think he is right.

          1. No ACC programs consistently compete for the ACC Championship every year except Duke and UNC. Coach Young has consistently fielded competitive teams since he’s been at Tech and even managed to win one championship. His coaching performance is in line with most other ACC programs not named Duke or UNC. My guess is Whit hired him to be competitive and he’s doing that. I don’t agree with the above poster that Whit hired Young to be “mediocre”.

  5. Sure be nice if the kid who kicked Cattoor in the head had to sit out as long as he does. Always thought that would be good on personal fouls where an injury is caused by the foul. The fouler would be out as the fouled and injured was, works in any sport.

    1. The contact on Cattoor was incidental and it was Coach Brownell of Clemson that got Coach Young’s attention that Cattoor was hurt. There was no foul called and I can’t fault the Clemson player who was simply hustling for a loose ball like Cattoor was. if there was a flagrant foul, then your idea has merit.

    2. I might agree had it been an intentional foul. But the play in question wasn’t even a common foul. It was simply inadvertent contact. Bad luck for HC and us.

  6. Collins did a great, lock down defensive job on Pack. You could see that Pack was getting frustrated by not being able to get by him. That said, why does he get the final shot of the game? Literally anybody else on the team would have been a better option.

    1. Agree. Have been at games and watched others on TV. Collins does a good job on defense, but my goodness, how does someone play BB at VT level and not be able to shoot any better than Collins?
      Cannot imagine him having the last shot to tie/win a game.

  7. Agree that the team has shown progress the past two outings. It also looked like Collins and maybe Kidd weren’t 100% tonight. I wonder if an illness is working through the team because Collins in particular looked like he was running on fumes a few times and had a scary point where he was down on the court for a few minutes during a media timeout.

    Kind of crazy that possibly the most winnable game in this tough stretch is at UVA. That’s a road game that VT really needs to steal if they want to get back on track to make a run towards the post season.

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