Virginia Tech avoids an upset against Richmond in the first round of the NIT

The Hokies rebound from a low start to take down the in-state Spiders.

Richmond v Virginia Tech
Richmond v Virginia Tech / Ryan Hunt/GettyImages

Final. 58. 2321. ACC. 74. 447

Going into their NIT Tournament game at Cassell Coliseum against Richmond, one question surrounding the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team Tuesday night was whether or not the Hokies players wanted to be there. We knew head coach Mike Young did, but did his players?

Through the first 10 minutes of the game, Virginia Tech struggled offensively and dug themselves into an early hole, but they were able to rebound over the final 30 minutes. They turned up the defensive pressure and started moving the ball better on offense and knocking down shots to beat the Spiders by 16 points to advance to the second round at Ohio State this weekend.

The two teams combined to start the game 1-for-15 from the field with the only basket being a Lynn Kidd elbow jumper. After Richmond built an 11-5 lead, the Hokies closed out the half on a 28-13 run for a five-point halftime lead.

In the second half, the Hokies turned around the narrative that they had struggled in the final 20 minutes by outscoring the Spiders, 41-30, and playing much better defense. They held Jordan King to just six points, all in the second half, while continuing to score on the inside and outside.

Kidd finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, including going 9-for-10 from the field. Mylyjael Poteat had seven points and six boards.

Sean Pedulla finished with 17 points and seven assists and MJ Collins had 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. Hunter Cattoor, finished with 10 points, including his 1,500th career point on a 3-point at the end of the first half as the Hokies improved to 15-2 at home this season.

Virginia Tech now heads to Ohio State, an 88-83 winner of Cornell Tuesday night, in the second round in Columbus. This will be another road test for the Hokies away from Blacksburg where they have struggled this season and another reason they’re in the NIT, not the NCAA Tournament.