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Virginia Tech Overcomes Slow Start to Beat Boise State 82-75

Hunter Cattoor 1 VT Miami 2023 TS
Photo Credit: Taelor Shema

For some Hokie fans, it was a large Thanksgiving lunch or dinner that caused a stomach ache around 8:15pm this evening. For others, it was Virginia Tech falling into a 14-2 hole early in the first half to Boise State. The good news for those affected by the latter was that the Hokies had the medicine to ease those aches in Sean Pedulla, Lynn Kidd, Hunter Cattoor, and Tyler Nickel.

Virginia Tech beat Boise State 82-75 to improve to 4-1 on the season with the Broncos falling to 2-2. The Hokies will take on 5-0 Iowa State in the semifinals of the ESPN Events Invitational tomorrow night at 5:30pm on ESPN2.

Tech struggled out the gates in this one falling into a 14-2 hole early before stagnating around that margin thanks to the sharpshooting of Hunter Cattoor. It didn't take long for Cattoor to hit a trio of threes to break Virginia Tech's career three-point shooting record previously held by AD Vassallo in his hometown of Orlando.

Those threes kept Tech around while the Hokies slowly figured things out on both ends of the floor, especially offensively, to get going in this one. Eventually, the Hokies used a 15-0 run to claim their first lead in this game, setting up a back-and-forth game going into halftime and for most of the second half before Sean Pedulla took control with five points between the 2:30 and 1:30 mark to give Tech a 77-70 lead which Boise would never get within a possession of.

Tech's defense could be best described as opportunistic with the Hokies having six steals while the Broncos had 16 turnovers total compared to only nine for Tech. VT took advantage of that well turning that into a critical 27-11 points off turnover advantage. The Hokies were also very effective in transition outscoring Boise 19-12 in fastbreak points.

Tech was 26-55 (47.3%) from the field in this one while Boise was 27-57 (47.4%), but Boise also started the game 7-8 before shooting just under 41% after the first five or so minutes of this game. That tightening up by the Tech defense was critical though the Hokies were fortunate as Boise State missed some open shots in the second half of this one. Tech still has plenty of work to do defensively but their defense forced some critical turnovers that helped them win this game.

The Hokies also have some work to do on the glass after Boise turned an 8-4 offensive rebound advantage into a 10-2 second chance points advantage. That's an area that Iowa State will certainly look to test tomorrow evening.

Hunter Cattoor was one of the stars of the night with a shared game-high of 19 points that included going 5-10 from three-point range to set the new school record for the most threes in a career. Will Stewart of Tech Sideline also noted a well-stated post over at TSL about how efficient Cattoor has been to surpass AD Vassallo for this record.

While Cattoor was key primarily in the first half, a few different Hokies played bigger roles in the second half to help Tech get the job done.

Lynn Kidd had his fifth double-figure scoring performance in five games this season with 19 points on 6-8 from the field and 7-7 from the free-throw line plus six rebounds. Kidd continues to be insanely efficient around the rim shooting 78% from the field on the season. While part of it has been due to Kidd getting some easy dunks (which he deserves credit for finding space well), he's also shown off some great post moves to give opposing big men fits.

Sean Pedulla may not have had an efficient night in the traditional sense but he found ways to score even if it required going to the free-throw line to get it done with 18 points on 5-16 shooting from the field plus an important 7-8 shooting from the free-throw line. He also added seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals while having five critical points inside the final 2.5 minutes that opened this game up and helped save the Hokies a little heartburn.

Tyler Nickel continues to play well for the Hokies with 14 points while shooting 5-10 from the field plus four rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal. Nickel has been great offensively but also had a pretty solid game defensive and is showing improvements on that end. If anything, it may be time to consider starting Nickel at the three over MJ Collins.

Robbie Beran has struggled early in his VT career, but he made a big impact defensively in ways that go beyond the scoreboard in this game to help the Hokies win this game. The Northwestern transfer had four points, three rebounds, two blocks, one steal, and one assist while showing signs of getting more comfortable in what Tech wants to do on both ends of the floor.

Mekhi Long had four points and five rebounds in a solid night off the bench while MJ Collins struggled with three fouls in only eight minutes of action while being 0-3 from the field. Mylyjael Poteat provided some good minutes off the bench with four points while Brandon Rechsteiner and Jaydon Young gave Pedulla and Cattoor a couple breathers as Rechsteiner had an assist in four minutes and Young played three minutes.

This was a big time win for Virginia Tech against a well-coached Boise State program that has made the past two NCAA Tournaments and returned three of their top four scorers from last year's team. The relentless mentality they showed in this game to fight back after a rough start and pick up what will be a quality, non-conference win was impressive and rather critical for the Hokies and their NCAA Tournament hopes even this early in the season.

Tech's transfers also are continuing to show signs of getting more comfortable in what Mike Young wants to do, especially Tyler Nickel. Additionally, Lynn Kidd has clearly taken a big next step and looks like he'll be one of the best centers in the ACC this year in what is a very positive development for this team.

Tech still has work to do on the defensive end though as another tough challenge looms tomorrow night against Iowa State, but they showed that they can at least be opportunistic on that end and take advantage of their opponent's turnovers at the type of rate that can raise the Hokies' ceiling even if their defense isn't great.

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