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Virginia Tech Blown Out By Wake Forest 86-63

MBB Team Huddle 1 VT WF 2023 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Today's matchup between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest felt like a toss-up game on paper entering it. However, that lasted for only about several minutes with Wake Forest taking control early, and then using a 10-0 run to end the first half and make it a 20-point margin that would never tighten in the second half.

Virginia Tech lost to Wake Forest 86-63 to fall to 9-4 on the season including 1-1 in ACC play while the Demon Deacons improved to 9-3 including 1-0 in ACC play. Tech will have a full week to prepare for their next game next Saturday at a Florida State team that lost to Lipscomb earlier today while Wake Forest has a quick turnaround, heading north to take on Boston College on Tuesday.

Mike Young was brief and accurate in his summary of the game after.

"Steve’s team played better than my team from the opening tip to the end of it. We’ll be better, have to be better," Young said.

The Hokies were all out of sorts offensively in the first half with 12 turnovers while going 0-5 from three-point range struggling to get any good looks from behind the arc and the ones they did missed. They also only got Hunter Cattoor two shots in the first half which is always a problem if you're Tech while Sean Pedulla struggled mightily and Lynn Kidd wasn't as efficient in the first half as he normally is.

Turnovers were the story of the day for the Hokies as they finished with 18 compared to only 7 for Wake Forest with the Demon Deacons turning that into a 23-7 points off turnover advantage. Wake Forest used full-court press often in this game, something that they haven't done much all season till today. WF head coach Steve Forbes shared after the game that he wanted to do everything he could to keep the Hokies out of rhythm with the press helping them do just that.

Mike Young wasn't too surprised by the full-court press given that he's seen it from Forbes before when Young was at Wofford and Forbes was at ETSU. He also felt that it wasn't just the press that was the root of the Hokies' offensive issues but that the Hokies just weren't themselves in this game.

"Five assists, 12 turnovers at the half. It just didn't look like our team. We'll get better," Young said.

It was also a bad day for the Hokies on the glass with Wake Forest having 11 offensive rebounds compared to four for Virginia Tech. Even worse, the Hokies didn't have a single second chance point in this game while Wake Forest.

Those turnover and offensive rebounding led to a startling 16 more shot attempts and seven more free-throw attempts for Wake Forest than Virginia Tech today. The Hokies actually outshot WF going 46.2% (24-52) compared to 44.1% (30-68) for the Demon Deacons.

Tech actually played pretty decent basketball in the second half, but they buried themselves in too big of a hole at halftime with a 44-24 deficit that never gave them any chance at pulling off a comeback to even get back into contention.

Even with that, Mike Young was clear that he wasn't interested in any sort of consolation prize for being competitive with them in the second half.

"Well don't be misled. When you get your ass beat by 20 in the first, no consolation prizes for going toe to toe with anybody in the second half," Young said.

Lynn Kidd found his rhythm in the second half somewhat, but had a less efficient than normal day for his high standards with 14 points on 7-15 shooting plus five rebounds and three assists. Tech was able to get Hunter Cattoor more involved in the second half, and the fifth year guard delivered with 14 points on 5-7 shooting including 1-3 from three plus 3-3 from the free-throw line.

The biggest positive came with Tech's play at the four from Mekhi Long and Robbie Beran. The two fifth-year transfers have continued to progress and were effective in this game with Beran making a pair of threes on his way to having eight points, two rebounds, two assists, and two blocks while Long had five points, five rebounds, and one block.

Sean Pedulla has sparingly played in the past few weeks due to a foot injury, and struggled in this game with only five points on 2-8 shooting plus six turnovers, two rebounds, and two assists. Pedulla was never able to find any rhythm in this game and just seemed a little off forcing bad shots that were unusual for him to take, having sloppy passes and even taking a bad foul where he wasn't able to break left or right trying to get open off an in-bounds play but ran right into the WF defender.

Mike Young mentioned after the game that Pedulla hasn't been able to face a lot of contact in practice as he recovers from injury. That definitely showed against a physical Wake Forest though Pedulla also still seems to be in a little bit of a rut that goes beyond his injury.

Brandon Rechsteiner also started the second half for Pedulla and had his ups and downs with four points, four rebounds, one assist, and three turnovers in 20 minutes (while Pedulla played 19). MJ Collins had a disappointing performance in what was a rough day for Tech's guards with no points on 0-3 shooting and two rebounds. Tyler Nickel was able to get to the free-throw line often and find ways to score with 11 points including 6-7 at the free-throw line plus two rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

Mylyjael Poteat had two points and one rebound in seven minutes while Patrick Wessler and Jaydon Young came in for the final few minutes with Wessler having a block and Young having a rebound and an assist.

Wake Forest's starting five fired on all cylinders with all five in double figures led by Hunter Sallis who had 20 points on 8-14 shooting plus nine rebounds, looking like a clear All-ACC player. Wake Forest's frontcourt was effective with Andrew Carr having 15 points and eight rebounds while Efton Reid added 13 points and eight rebounds. They also got 14 points each from Cameron Hildreth and Kevin Miller as the Demon Deacons' scoring depth made it difficult for the Hokies to key in on one player.

Looking ahead, the Hokies get a full week of consistent practice prior to their next game at FSU, something that the Hokies haven't really had over the past few weeks due to final exams and the Christmas break. For Robbie Beran, he would love to get back on the floor for another game ASAP, but also feels that this week of practices will be an important reset to get back to playing Virginia Tech basketball.

"If it's up to me, I'd want to play tomorrow, get in these games. But these next practices are going to be really important not only to get some bumps and bruises locked down but solidifying our principles. I think as we saw today, we kind of lost some of our principles so if we can lock it in at practice and translate it onto next Saturday, that'll be good," Beran said.

There's no doubt that the Hokies need to be effective with these few practices with a tough next five games starting with likely easiest opponent in Florida State on the road followed by two tough home games against #18 Clemson and a talented Miami team that returns many key pieces from last year's Final Four teams. That stretch then continues with a pair of road games at Virginia and at NC State, both of which Tech will most likely be underdogs in.

The Hokies got a rude awakening today from a Wake Forest team that is better than their resume and may be the fifth best team in the league at the worst with a legitimately strong starting five that is more than NCAA Tournament at-large bid caliber. The Hokies were bested in all facets and need to take advantage of the week ahead to get their game sharp.

If not, Tech could be headed for a poor start to ACC play similar to last season.

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