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Hunter Cattoor, Sean Pedulla Boost Virginia Tech to 85-72 Victory at Florida State

Hunter Cattoor Sean Pedulla VT at FSU 2022 From VT

After suffering a heartbreaking loss on a buzzer beater at Miami on Wednesday, Virginia Tech headed to Tallahassee in the basement of the ACC desperate for a win against a Florida State team that had the third best home record since 2016 entering this game. While the odds seemed stacked up against the Hokies on paper, the Hokies' sharpshooting from Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla led to Tech winning their first game at FSU since 1990.

Virginia Tech beat Florida State 85-72 to improve to 11-10 on the season including 3-7 in the ACC escaping the basement of the conference while the Seminoles fell to 13-7 overall including 6-4 in ACC play. The win gave the Hokies a very important Q1 victory, their first of the season, boosting Tech's resume not only for the floor of the NIT but for their extremely slim NCAA Tournament hopes.

Three-point shooting proved crucial for Virginia Tech as the Hokies were 18-24 from three including an insane 15-18 from Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla with Pedulla dominating the first half and Cattoor taking over in the second half.

Compare that to only 5-13 from the Seminoles from deep and you can see how crucial Tech's three-point shooting especially as FSU outscored Tech in the paint 42-20 while Keve Aluma had only 4 points. FSU also had an 11-4 offensive rebound advantage though VT minimized the damage with the Noles only having a 12-7 second chanec points advantage.

Tech's shooting all-around was strong as the Hokies shot an impressive 61.5% from the field including 68% in the second half which was almost a replica of Tech's strong shooting second half against Notre Dame recently. The Hokies also only had 10 turnovers compared to 14 for FSU though they were only able to turn that into a 16-14 points off turnovers advantage.

Hunter Cattoor was the biggest star of the day as he was a perfect 6-6 from three in the second half on his wat to 27 points including an insane 9-11 from three to tie Justin Robinson's single game school record while also adding 4 rebounds, a team-high 2 blocks, and 1 assist. Cattoor's shooting stood out the most but he was dominant all over the floor finishing at a +15 plus/minus in what is probably the best game of his career.

Sean Pedulla was the star of the first half going a perfect 5-5 from three before making his sixth attempt early in the second half as Pedulla was also dominant from deep. He finished with 20 points on 7-11 shooting including 6-7 from three while adding 3 assists and 1 rebound, and having a +12 plus/minus. He also played a career high 23 minutes which is even more notable given that Tech's starting PG Storm Murphy only played 21 minutes in what has to be his first time playing more minutes than Murphy.

There has been a large push for Pedulla to get more playing time given how well he has passed the eye test compared to Murphy though in conference play, the deeper analytics and plus/minus analytics had suggested otherwise. However, today's impressive display from Pedulla combined with Murphy being the only Hokie with a negative plus/minus at -2 should lead to Tech adjusting and giving Pedulla a larger role given his improving play.

Justyn Mutts led the Hokies' frontcourt as he had 10 points on 4-5 shooting while also having 5 rebounds and 4 assists with his passing being extremely effective for Tech today. David N'Guessan was the surprise leader in frontcourt minutes with 27 and stepped up with 6 points on 3-4 shooting plus 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and a +13 plus/minus. Darius Maddox was the third of the young bench trio that stepped up with 6 points and 3 steals while having a +9 plus/minus.

Keve Aluma had a tough day dealing with lots of foul trouble as he finished with only 4 points on 2-4 shooting plus 1 rebound and 4 fouls in 24 minutes. Nahiem Alleyne had a fairly quiet day with 5 points on 2-6 shooting plus 1 rebound and 1 assist while Storm Murphy had 7 points on 3-4 shooting plus 5 assists and 2 rebounds though he was the only Hokie with a negative plus/minus at -2.

Anthony Polite led Florida State with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals while playing a game-high 37 minutes while Matthew Cleveland had 10 points with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Naheem McLeod was a perfect 7-7 from the field while making his lone free throw attempt on his way to 15 points off the bench while Cam'Ron Fletcher had 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists off the bench.

After losing in a very heartbreaking way against Miami amidst their rough start to ACC play, this Virginia Tech team that had such high expectations could have easily folded. Instead, the Hokies fought back against a still talented Florida State team even without a pair of starters and a third in Caleb Mills playing only 3 minutes.

This was a crucial win for the Hokies first given how this gives Tech a crucial Quad 1 win which is a major boost to their resume. Additionally, the Hokies have been needing momentum and there may not be a better way than winning by 13 at Florida State who has the best home record among major conference teams since 2016.

Now, the Hokies have a chance to go on a run and they most definitely need to as their next five games are home against Georgia Tech, at Pittsburgh, home against Pittsburgh, home against Syracuse, and home against UVA. Given what we've seen from those teams and that 4 out of 5 are at Cassell Coliseum, this is a stretch where the Hokies need to go 5-0 not only for their NIT hopes but also for their faint but not dead just yet NCAA Tournament hopes.

Today should go a long way to providing some much-needed momentum going into that stretch and making that happen before a tough closing stretch that features Miami, UNC, Louisville, Clemson, and Georgia Tech.

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