Virginia Tech Bounces Back From Three-Game Skid With Florida State Win

Tyler Nickel and Virginia Tech bounced back in a big way on Tuesday vs. Florida State. (Jon Fleming)

Virginia Tech bounced back from its three-game skid on Tuesday night in Cassell Coliseum with an 83-75 win over Florida State.

“Battled through some fouls. Every time you play Florida State, you’re dealing with those issues as they just drive the ball so violently,” Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “… But all-in-all, a really good night for our club, and we needed one.”

Against a Seminoles (13-11, 7-6 ACC) squad that is extremely deep, lengthy and twitchy, the Hokies (14-10, 6-7 ACC) matched the physicality, toughness and energy, something they didn’t do in their 77-74 loss in Tallahassee on Jan. 6.

That was on display when Sean Pedulla threw Lynn Kidd an alley-oop just five seconds into the second half, which jumpstarted the team after intermission. For a group that struggled to play a full 40 minutes of basketball in previous games at Miami and Notre Dame, it didn’t let up against FSU.

“Just tired of losing second-halves,” Pedulla said. “Whenever we’ve had the game in control, we come out in the second half and quickly lose the lead and then play from behind the whole second half. So today, it was just like, we have to come out with a different type of energy and be kind of the guys who are on the attack mode and kind of will ourselves to win.”

Tech’s effort on the glass was pivotal in the game. Though it won the rebounding battle by three in the first meeting, 35-32, it allowed 11 offensive rebounds, including three in one possession.

That was a point of emphasis entering the rematch, and the Hokies demolished the ‘Noles on the boards, 35-23. They had 13 offensive rebounds, which led to 10 second-chance points, and allowed just six on the other end. In many ways, they were just quicker to the ball.

Rebounding was a huge emphasis for Lynn Kidd and Virginia Tech vs. FSU. (Jon Fleming)

“Outrebounded Florida State by 12,” Young said. “They just peeled our ears back in Tallahassee. We were quicker to the ball tonight than they were. They were much quicker to the ball in Tallahassee and that was a big part of the game.”

One of the most important pieces was Lynn Kidd, the 6-foot-10 center who was quiet last time out at Notre Dame with just three points on two shots. While he was more active offensively this time around, particularly in the second half — he finished with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, 10 of which came after the break — he was incredible in the rebounding column, finishing with 15.

Kidd tied a career-high in rebounds with that performance, one that featured six offensive boards. He set the tone within the first few minutes, too, and had one possession with two rebounds, which eventually led to a layup for Robbie Beran.

Kidd played 29 minutes and did not commit a foul, an amazing feat considering there were 47 called in a 40-minute span — 26 on FSU, 21 on VT. That led to an extremely choppy game, which made it difficult to control the pace.

Virginia Tech stuck together, though, and buckled down defensively, especially after halftime. Florida State shot 61 percent (14-of-23) in the first 20 minutes but regressed to 46 percent (10-of-22) in the latter stages.

“That’s how they play, and they in-turn speed you up a little bit. Made shot, here comes the press,” Young said. “… We got a little frantic there at times, but I thought we handled ourselves pretty good.”

On the surface, Tech wasn’t terrific offensively — it finished 22-of-54 (41%) from the field — but was extremely efficient from behind the arc and the foul line. It made 11 of its 23 3-point attempts — 6-of-11 in the first half, 5-of-12 in the second — while it took an incredible 32 free throws, making 28 for 87.5 percent. The No. 4 free throw shooting team in the country at 79.5 percent handled its business in that aspect.

Sean Pedulla and Virginia Tech stepped up at the foul line when it mattered. (Jon Fleming)

Those contributions came from everywhere. Young made the bold decision to use more of his bench against FSU, something he hadn’t done in quite some time. Mekhi Long missed his sixth straight game with a knee injury, meaning Tech was shallow at the four spot. But, against a team that plays anywhere between 10 and 12 guys — Young joked that Leonard Hamilton has an army — Tech relied on its depth, which paid off.

True freshmen Brandon Rechsteiner and Jaydon Young both saw minutes, along with redshirt sophomore John Camden. The young bucks each hit a 3-pointer and Rechsteiner added two assists and was called upon when Pedulla was in foul trouble. Camden had a three lip out but knocked down two important free throws.

“Helped us win,” Young said. “… I had no choice in either half, and John responded. John did some good things for us in the first half defensively, got those two fouls down in the second half. Jaydon Young helped our team tonight. Got the three down in the first half, as did Rechsteiner.

“You’ve got to be able to do that. They’ll just wear you down, playing as many people as they do, and sometimes he plays more than he did tonight.”

Their performances off the bench, combined with Tyler Nickel’s 15-point outing on 6-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three, helped the Hokies outscore FSU’s bench 23-22. Entering Tuesday, the Seminoles had outscored 11 of their last 12 opponents in that category.

Outside of Kidd, Tech was paced by the usual suspects: Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla. Cattoor had a season-high 20 points on 4-of-6 shooting from deep while adding four rebounds and three assists. Pedulla had 19 points, four rebounds, four assists and four turnovers. He was just 2-of-9 from the field but made a career-high 14 free throws on 16 attempts.

MJ Collins and the Hokies were able to tough out a win in a very physical game with Florida State. (Jon Fleming)

MJ Collins chipped in seven points, two rebounds and two assists. Robbie Beran added two points and four boards. Those two, along with Pedulla, spent time in foul trouble.

But the Hokies used everybody to get over the hump and back in the win column. Though it wasn’t pretty — they turned the ball over 11 times, made some silly mistakes offensively and struggled for stretches on the defensive end — they righted the ship against a team in the top-half of the league.

Next up: a trip to No. 7 North Carolina on Saturday.

“Let’s take tomorrow off and prepare our bodies and let’s have two good days of preparation and let’s find a way to go down there and win,” Young said. “Not going to be easy.”

Box Score: Virginia Tech 83, Florida State 75

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  1. No mention of the game Hunter Cattoor had – 20 points on 4/6 from three, made all 4 FT with 4 reb and 3 asst in 39 minutes with 0 turnovers – this guy is a leader and a warrior!

    1. Fifth-to-last paragraph: “Outside of Kidd, Tech was paced by the usual suspects: Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla. Cattoor had a season-high 20 points on 4-of-6 shooting from deep while adding four rebounds and three assists.”

      1. Thanks David – totally missed it! My favorite Mike Young quote about Cattoor “He is tougher than a $2 steak!” and every game Hunter proves it to be true!

  2. Pedulla’s stat line got a big boost from being the recipient of 5 (intentional) fouls late in the game when FSU was trying to drag the game out and close the gap. To his credit he responded by going 10-10 and closing out the win.

    1. Happy Valentines Day… you are a joy in your social dealings just like you are on TSL 😉

      1. You too….another rose colored glasses fan, enjoy your fantasy life…has nothing to do with my personal life, this team and coach have underperformed since the ACC tournament win. Just look at the record.

        Don’t hate the player, hate the game…it is what it is.

    2. Maybe. But a team we beat by 20 went into the Dean Dome and won.

      It’s unlikely but you don’t need rose colored glasses to see that Carolina is not invincible at home.

  3. In a disappointing year it’s nice to see Tech get this gutsy win. Hope they can get a few more wins and maybe get to the NIT.

    1. You shouldn’t be shocked about us beating ANYONE at home.

      Beat UNC, Cuse or Pitt on the road? Then be shocked

      1. Hey, hokiepro:
        – A loss in a game that Hokies had in control and then handed to Miami, AT HOME. (Did same @ Miami; but, I digress.)
        – A 10-point loss that masked what was really a near embarrassing performance vs Dook, AT HOME.
        – At Tallahassee, FSU let Hokies close in final minutes to a seemingly respectable 3-point loss in a game Seminoles completely controlled in second half. Then, when CMY had repeatedly shown he couldn’t coach the effort out of his team, the Hokies actually outplayed FSU in 2nd half.

        Thanks for your effort to dissuade; but, no, still shocked. And will remain so until this coach shows he can do it consistently and not just anomalously.

  4. Another nice write up, David! One mistake I noticed, you have Pedulla down for 10 points (and 14 made free throws!)

  5. Judging from the # of bodies played , CMY realizes the 2nd half collapses were from guys just being totally gassed.
    Better late than never…

    1. Hello!!! You think? CMY does not appear to be a good coach in game time. Maybe he misses his 2 Asst’s who left.

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