Facing Florida Atlantic in the championship game of the 2023 ESPN Events Invitational Sunday afternoon in Orlando, anything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team.
Offensively or defensively, it didn’t matter as the Hokies struggled all afternoon against the Owls, a team with a lot of returning players from a Final Four team last season and lost, 84-50.
Virginia Tech held the high-powered Owls to 32 first-half points with some good defense, but Florida Atlantic put the clamps down defensively in the final minutes of the half and early in the second half to pull away. The Hokies fall to 5-2 with the loss and here are some observations from the game.
10 observations from FAU’s win over Virginia Tech
- It was an offensive struggle for the Hokies. The Owls’ defense forced a lot of tough shots, held Tech a lot of one-and-done’s, and they focused on taking Hunter Cattoor out of the game and they were successful.
- Cattoor was 0-for-8 on 3-pointers but still finished tied with Sean Pedulla with a team-high 11 points. Lynn Kidd had nine.
- For the game, Pedulla was 4-for-15 from the field and Cattoor was 4-for-13 and they combined to go 0-for-12 from behind the arc. Most of their 3-point looks were good looks that just wouldn’t go down.
- Florida Atlantic (5-1) had a 19-0 run that spanned from the end of the first half to early in the second half and that was broken up by a Kidd dunk that ended a 9:30 field goal drought for the Hokies. Later in the half, the Owls took control with a 15-0 run to open up a 71-41 lead.
- Virginia Tech shot 20-for-60, which was 33.3%, and then 2-for-17 from behind the arc for 11.8%. The 3-point shot is big and the Hokies needed as Sunday was a prime example of what happens when it doesn’t fall.
- FAU shot 33-for-58 from the field for 56.9% and 9-for-22 from 3-point land for 40.9%. Again, Virginia Tech’s defense was good in the first half, but things just got out of control in the final 20 minutes.
- Believe it or not, the 84 points is the lowest for Florida Atlantic in the three games this weekend. They put 91 on Butler in the first round and 96 on a very good Texas A&M club.
- Virginia Tech didn’t help their cause with 14 turnovers. FAU is an athletic team that pressures the ball. They do a good job turning their defense into offense.
- MJ Collins went down late in the game with an injury. Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious as he has been good early in the season for Mike Young.
- Despite the loss, Virginia Tech should be happy winning two out of three over the weekend against Boise State and Iowa State. I think if you asked Young before the tournament if he would take two out of three wins in Orlando, he’d sign up for it.
There is little time for the Hokies to dwell on this one as they head to Auburn Wednesday night to play the Tigers in the ACC/SEC Challenge. Another opportunity for Virginia Tech to add to their resume in November.