Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Virginia Tech had a rough shooting game for the second time in three games but as they did against Chattanooga, the Hokies found a way to take care of business.
Virginia Tech beat VMI 64-55 to improve to 9-3 on the season while the Keydets fell to 5-8 with the loss to the Hokies. Virginia Tech will face Maryland Eastern Shore on December 29th to finish up the non-conference portion of their schedule.
Tech only shot 34.4% from the field including 7-26 (26.9%) from three while VMI shot 41.12% from the field including 13-30 (43.3%) from three. However, the Hokies were dominant in almost every other way.
Tech had only 7 turnovers while VMI had 23 turnovers with the Hokies holding a 26-8 points off turnovers advantage. The Hokies also had a 13-8 offensive rebounding advantage turning that into a 14-6 second chance points advantage. Tech also was 15-24 from the free-throw line which, while not being great, looks a lot more impressive when balanced with the fact that VMI did no attempt a single free throw in this game.
Tech's defense was solid overall doing a great job of forcing turnovers while their rebounding proved vital in helping Tech finish with 10 more shots and 24 more free throw attempts (VT-24, VMI-0).
Hunter Cattoor had a slow start, but was great in the second half on his way to a leading performance with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers on 4-8 shooting including 2-6 from three-point range. Meanwhile, sophomore Isaiah Wilkins was the spark Tech needed in the first half putting together a strong game overall with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers on 4-7 shooting including 2-4 from three-point range.
Cattoor and Wilkins were both impressive and showed how the Hokies have some valuable scoring depth on the wings that could prove important in ACC play especially if Tech's star scorers like Landers Nolley and Nahiem Alleyne have a rough game.
Landers Nolley struggled in this game with only 4 points on 1-11 shooting with 3 turnovers, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists as the redshirt freshman has struggled over the past few games. Nahiem Alleyne also didn't have a great offensive night with only 4 points on 2-7 shooting as Tech will be hoping that Nolley and Alleyne can find their rhythm next weekend against UMES before ACC play starts.
Tyrece Radford continues to be one of the best pound-for-pound rebounders in the country as the 6'1'' redshirt freshman had double-digit rebounds for the third time this season with 10 to go with 7 points on 3-9 shooting, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers. Jalen Cone also had a solid night with 9 points as he sparked a 9-0 first half run with 7 of those points including a four-point play.
P.J. Horne was productive with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals while Wabissa Bede had a quiet night with 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. John Ojiako had 2 points and 2 blocks in his 11 minutes while Branden Johnson made his fifth appearance of the season.
It was another tough shooting night for Virginia Tech, but the Hokies once again found other ways to win as they did against Chattanooga. The other good news for the Hokies is that they shouldn't have to face too many zones outside of Syracuse though this game should provide plenty of lessons that can be taught for when the Hokies do run into zone defenses in ACC play.
Virginia Tech and VMI started out slow with the Hokies missing their first 9 shots and the Keydets holding a 6-3 lead after the second media timeout over 8 minutes into the game. However, the Hokies turned to their bench to get things going with Isaiah Wilkins making a pair of shots to claim Tech's first lead before Tech went on a 9-0 run to claim a 16-8 lead thanks to 7 points from Jalen Cone. Tech followed that run with a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 23-13 before finishing the first half with a 26-18 lead.
Both teams were extremely cold in the first half as the Hokies shot 32.3% from the field while VMI shot 26.9% from the field with both teams under 27% from 3. However, the Hokies had plenty to be pleased with defensively and with how they protected the ball with only 4 turnovers compared to 10 for VMI. Additionally, the Hokies also had 7 assists on their 9 made shots and had a 5-4 offensive rebounding advantage.
Jalen Cone led the Hokies with 7 points off a pair of threes including a four-point play while P.J. Horne had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in a strong first half. Isaiah Wilkins was the spark for the Hokies with 2 steals and 4 points off a pair of made shots that got Tech going while Landers Nolley was 1-8 with 4 points in what was an inefficient half for the Hokies' star redshirt freshman.
VMI started the second half strong offensively cutting the Tech lead to 28-25 before Tech opened it back up to 33-27 with 14:59 to go. Tech opened it back up to 10 at 43-33, tying the widest margin of the game before VMI trimmed it back down to 45-39. Tech would open it back up again pushing their lead out to 52-42 and then 57-45 before finishing out the game with a 64-55 victory over the Keydets.