Explosive First Half Propels Virginia Tech In 80-64 Win At Louisville

Robbie Beran and Virginia Tech used an explosive first half to roll to their second road win of the season. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Virginia Tech scored 49 first-half points, tied for the most in a road game in the Mike Young era, en route to an 80-64 victory at Louisville on Tuesday night.

The Hokies (17-13, 9-10 ACC) picked up their second road win of the season — and the first in more than seven weeks — by shooting 53 percent in the first half and jumping out to a 49-31 lead through 20 minutes against the Cardinals (8-22, 3-16). It’s the second time they’ve scored 49 first-half points away from Blacksburg under Young; the other was a 76-71 victory at Pitt on Feb. 5, 2022.

“I thought by-and-large, we did a nice job,” Tech head coach Mike Young said afterwards. “We only had three turnovers at the half, we had [eight] for the game on 15 assists. We’ve got a good shooting team, we haven’t shot it great during stretches, but [Tyler] Nickel can make a shot, I think MJ Collins made at least two, maybe three in the first half. Robbie Beran shot the ball better tonight than he’s shot it all year, and he’s shot it pretty good here over the last two-thirds of the season.”

It was a balanced attack from Tech, who traded blows with Louisville in the second half. Sean Pedulla led the way with 15 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals to just two turnovers. He was one of four double-figure scorers.

MJ Collins posted 13 on 5-of-11 shooting (3-of-6 from 3-point range) while adding five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Tyler Nickel scored 13 as well on 3-of-8 shooting from behind the arc. Robbie Beran made a season-high four treys en route to 12 points (and six boards). Lynn Kidd chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Hokies made 13 of their 29 triples, including 8-of-16 in the first half. Louisville wasn’t as good (9-of-23) but also turned it over 14 times, 10 of which came before intermission. For comparison, Tech gave it away just eight times (three in the first half) and no one had more than two.

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield was good for the Cardinals and finished with 19 points, and he knocked down eight of his 13 attempts, but he had three miscues. Four Louisville players finished with three fouls, and point guard Skyy Clark was called for three in the first 14 minutes, which took Kenny Payne’s team out of rhythm.

MJ Collins and Virginia Tech have shot above 40 percent in 13 consecutive games. (Virginia Tech athletics)

The Cardinals matched the Hokies in the second half and outscored them 33-31, but the 18-point halftime lead was a nice cushion. After a 3-pointer from Collins with 9:24 left in the first half pushed the margin to 11 points, Tech led by double digits the rest of the way.

It was a gratifying win for Tech, who defended pretty well and limited Louisville to 46 percent. It’s struggled to play a full 40 minutes when not in the friendly confines of Cassell Coliseum — even in its previous road win at NC State it turned the ball over 20 times — but it was better in the KFC Yum! Center. It’s the first time ever Tech’s beaten Louisville in back-to-back games on the road.

The offense has really clicked over the last few outings for the Hokies. In four of their last five games, they’ve shot 48 percent or better. Though they’re just 3-2 in that span — their defense allowed Syracuse to shoot 57 percent a week ago — they haven’t dipped below 40 percent since their loss in Charlottesville on Jan. 17, a stretch of 13 games.

The win also means Virginia Tech is very close to playing on Wednesday in the ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C. After the game on Tuesday, it was the No. 9 seed in the event, which begins on Tuesday, March 12, but Florida State lost at Pitt later in the night, meaning it moved up to the No. 8 seed. It’s tied with NC State in the standings but owns the head-to-head win, and the tiebreak with the Seminoles at the moment would be Tech’s win over Virginia.

It’s not set in stone, though. The Hokies have one final game remaining: vs. Notre Dame at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPNU). A win would clinch their spot on the second day of the tournament, but a loss and a win from both NC State and Florida State would send them back to the No. 10 seed and force them to play on Tuesday.

With Wake Forest losing to home against Georgia Tech, however, the Hokies has a slim chance to get the No. 7 seed in the tournament. It holds the tiebreaker over the Deacs and the Wolfpack if a three-way tie were to occur, but cannot beat the Deacs straight up because of that squad’s win against Duke. They can’t beat out the Seminoles, though, who have a better record against the group.

Box Score: Virginia Tech 80, Louisville 64

10 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. CMY basically has a 7 man rotation and it’s hard in the ACC Tourney to win the Championship when you’re playing back to back games with a short bench.As always Go Hokies!!

  2. A good win for a perplexing team. How much gas will be in the tank for ACCT?

  3. I couldn’t figure out if we were that good in the first half or they were that bad. Lots of open shots for us…and we hit a bunch of them. I also thought our D was really good. What I noticed most was how empty the place was. Gotta take care of business with ND and get that bye. We need it.

    1. Louisville isn’t a good team as evidenced by their record. But so what? They were a nemisis foir a very long time. Now the screw has turned but they will be competitive again. Best we close the gap while we have the chance to do so. We’re a middle of the pack team in the historically, most-comptitive conference in the country w/the chance of finishing 10-10 and earn a 1st R bye. What’s to apologize for, aside from 2-losses to 6-win Miami? OOC losses to SEC 2nd place USC (24-5), SEC 3rd place AU (23-7) and 2023 F4 FAU (22-7) is something to apologize for? .I don’t put much store in early-seasons losses to OOC teams. We lost to USC by 2 in in game #2 in a tournament. To FAU in game #7 in a pre-season tournament game and at Auburn in game #8. These are, “exhibition” games in which the coaches are experimenting w/new players, searching for roles they will play as the season progresses. A split w/Miami (6-12) in conference play and we’re 10-9 now instead of 9-11, potentially 11-9 in conference play. Which other games did we let get away from us? Which ACC road games vs. one-off ACC foes should we have beaten that we didn’t? Pitt, UNC, SU, all ahead of us in the standings? Someone? Otherwise, besides Miami, we split w/UVA, WF and FSU and have a chance to do so w/ND. We’re playing at a high-level now. I like our chances to even the score w/the Irish.

      1. You also forgot some of our good wins such as Iowa State and even Boise State wasn’t chopped liver plus Conf champ Vermont

        1. I was focused on conf. games. Those ae the ones that really matter. Yes, ISU (23-6) and BSU (26-9) are quality wins. The other OOC wins are garbage games. But a 10-win season in the ACC and 2-wins in the ACC tournament should put us in the NCAA “dance.”

  4. Great win by the guys last night. What I like best about college basketball is that you can play yourself into the NCAA Tournament. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the goal until it is or isn’t. GO HOKIES!!!

  5. Solid overall game for Pedulla. Guarantees a better ACC record than last year. Need one more for NIT, I think. So, some positives.

      1. When he shoots the ball more from his fingertips with a little more arc, he’s much better shooter. But he reverted back to shooting more his palm and with less arc in the 2nd – and not coincidently started putting up bricks again.

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