Behind the battling of Auburn C Johni Broome and Virginia Tech C Lynn Kidd, this game between the Hokies and Tigers had the feel of a grind-it-out 1990’s game, where three-point shooting was overshadowed by the bruising big men down low. This time Broome got the best of Kidd and Virginia Tech as a whole, dropping 30 points, and leading the Tigers to a 74-57 win over the struggling Hokies, dropping Tech to 5-3.
After a shocking 2-17 three point shooting performance against FAU a few days back, the Hokies looked to bounce back to their typical sharpshooting ways. However, the beginning of the game was just more of the same from the Hokies as Auburn jumped out to an 18-4 lead about 7 minutes into the game, behind 4 early turnovers and lots of missed jumpers from Tech. This was partially caused by the notably loud and energetic student section at Auburn, as well as the defensive intensity from the Auburn players.
Virginia Tech slowly clawed back from this early deficit, pulling it back to 33-24 going into the break. However, the Hokies' defensive intensity wasn’t enough to overcome a second consecutive game of horrific shooting, as Auburn pulled away in the second half to claim a near 20-point victory.
While the Hokies hit six threes on the night, their field goal percentage was actually worse than their three-point percentage as they managed only a 27.5% success rate on the game. Sharpshooter Hunter Cattoor only managed to knock down 1 three pointer on 6 attempts, ending with a team-high 16 points, while scoring point guard Sean Pedulla went 0-9 from the field, only scoring four points to go along with seven turnovers.
Pedulla’s 7 turnovers were just a third of Tech’s total of 21 turnovers which were almost as damaging to their winning chances as their shooting woes. Auburn took advantage of those turnovers scoring 30 points off of them compared to only five points for the Hokies off eight Auburn turnovers.
In the absence of MJ Collins due to injury, Virginia’s all-time leading High School scorer, Tyler Nickel, made his first ever collegiate start. However, he was never able to settle in, missing multiple open threes and getting in foul trouble from the get-go. Nickel was scoreless on the night.
One of the few positive takeaways from the game for Hokie fans is the solid play off the bench from sophomore John Camden and freshman Jaydon Young. In extended playing time, both young players finished with 9 points, going 5-7 from three-point range combined, and being the Hokies' only source of consistent perimeter shooting. These two may have earned minutes moving forward, as Tech continues preparing for conference play.
The other positive takeaway from the game is the hustle and drive the Hokies showed attacking the glass. Virginia Tech grabbed almost as many offensive rebounds as the Tigers had defensive rebounds, snagging 17 offensive boards compared to 23 Auburn defensive rebounds.
Overall though, the story of the game was the incredible game from junior Johni Broome, who got the best of Lynn Kidd, dominating the Hokies on the interior all night long. Broome finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks, with seven of his rebounds coming on the offensive end. Whether off of offensive rebounds, dump down passes from teammates, or post touches; the Hokies simply had no answer for Broome, who scored around the hoop and got to the charity stripe at will, knocking down eight freebies on 13 attempts.
Behind the incredible play of Broome, the Auburn Tigers were able to fuel themselves right from the tip-off, motivated by the incredible Auburn crowd. While both teams struggled mightily to knock down jumpers, Auburn took care of the ball, while the Hokies seemed rattled by the Tigers' pressure, leading to the blowout that this game became.
Now 5-3, Virginia Tech will look to bounce back on December 3rd with their first ACC game against a struggling but improved Louisville Cardinals who were able to make things dicey against Texas and Indiana earlier this season.