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Virginia Tech Comes Up Short at Miami 82-74

Mike Young Kevin Giltner Pedulla 1 VT FSU 2023 ES
Photo Credit: Erin Smith

After a three-game win streak against NC State, Boston College, and Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech found themselves right on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately it seems as if they find themselves back in the situation they were in just over a week ago; needing another big surge to get themselves back in a good position on the bubble.

After an understandable 10-point loss to Duke on Monday, Virginia Tech suffered a disappointing 82-74 at Miami despite being in control of the game for the middle 20 minutes of it.

The Hokies were in this game through and assumed control during the first half and kept it for much of the second half. However, Virginia Tech wasn’t able to close out the game missing countless free throws and throwing crucial turnovers down the stretch.

As a team, the Hokies went 7-14 from the free throw line and turned it over 11 times, but Sean Pedulla played an uncharacteristically huge role in both of those categories, turning it over seven times and going only 2-6 from the free-throw line.

Despite this, Pedulla still led the Hokies in scoring, dropping 21 points, five rebounds, and five assists. The starting backcourt combined for 40 points as Hunter Cattoor had a great shooting night, going for 19 points on 5-11 from three point land. Finally, Robbie Beran and Tyler Nickel were the other two Hokies to join the star backcourt in double digits, dropping 10 points a piece.

On the other hand, Miami had a very well-rounded performance where five different players scored at least 14 points. Kyshawn George and Norchad Omier each had 16 points, although Omier fouled out after just 26 minutes of action. Matthew Cleveland had a huge 15-point, 13-rebound double-double, while Bensley Joseph had an efficient 14 points in just 21 minutes off the bench and Nijel Pack had 14 despite a rough shooting night.

The story of the evening was Miami's incredible volume and efficiency at the free throw line. As a team, the Hurricane’s went 27-29 from the stripe, as they were able to get the ball inside and get either easy baskets down low or draw fouls. The way Miami was getting to the free throw line at will forced the defense to collapse, leaving open threes that the Hurricanes' made at an impressive 44% clip.

While improved free-throw shooting would have been excellent for Virginia Tech, so would more trips to the stripe. However, the Hokies bigs, who are normally able to draw fouls, didn’t have overly productive nights on the offensive end. Lynn Kidd and Mylyjael Poteat combined for just 14 points, and while Lynn Kidd was able to crash the glass and grab 11 boards, the Hokies desperately need him to dominate the paint like they know he is capable of.

This goes to show a deeper problem the Hokies have, which is their inability to get the entire team to play together and have good games at the same time. Against Duke, MJ Collins dropped 17, while against Georgia Tech, Kidd and Poteat dominated the interior for 18 points a piece. This has been the trend almost all season, and it can be a blessing and a curse.

On the bright side, the Hokies always seem to have one or two players playing well that can keep them in a game.

On the flip side, the way the Hokies seem to take turns in who plays well on a night to night basis, is holding them back and keeping them from ever playing to their full potential. In this way, Virginia Tech can never be completely counted out of a game, but they also can never be fully trusted to pick up a win.

At this point, both Virginia Tech and Miami are both fighting for NCAA Tournament bids, and it seems as if the Hokies specifically, have a very tall task ahead of them if they wish to reach that goal. The remaining games for both of these squads have become almost must wins starting with a trip to Charlottesville on February 5th for the Miami Hurricanes in what has the potential to be a massive Quadrant 1 win. On the other hand, the Hokies get a week to regroup before traveling to Indiana to take on Notre Dame, who sits at just 7-14 overall and 2-8 in conference play.

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