Since the 2023-24 Virginia Tech men's basketball schedule was released, one game that was circled early was their game at Cassell Coliseum on Saturday against the University of Vermont. The Catamounts are not your normal mid-major team as they are regulars in the NCAA Tournament as champions of the American East Conference.
Their style is one that can frustrate their opponents, especially a major conference team, and they have been known to pull an upset in March. Virginia Tech was not going to let Vermont pull an upset in their first game in a week.
The Hokies set the tone early with defense and they did a nice job of turning their defense into offense and building a 36-17 halftime lead on their way to a victory that should look good come Selection Sunday in March if Virginia Tech is on the bubble.
Here is some instant reaction after the Hokies improved to 8-3 and Vermont dropped to 8-4.
Virginia Tech set the tone defensively from the opening tap and held the Catamounts to four points until there were five minutes left in the half while getting hot from behind the arc. Talk about spreading the scoring out in the opening 20 minutes, they had seven different players hit a 3-pointer in the opening half and then hit four consecutive treys during an 18-0 run. Sean Pedulla, who returned after missing the Valparaiso game last Saturday, hit the first one followed by Robbie Beran, Brandon Rechsteiner, and Jaydon Young.
The Hokies made things very difficult for Vermont on offense, getting their hands in the passing lanes, running them off the 3-point line, and forcing them into tough shots they're not used to taking. It was a defensive performance that Mike Young has been waiting for this season. The Catamounts, who average 10 3's a game went 2-for-12 in the first half and finished 4-for-20. Talk about taking away a teams strength for 40 minutes.
Offensively, Virginia Tech only had three players in double figures, Lynn Kidd with 17 points and 11 rebounds for this third double-double of the season, Tyler Nickel had 13 points and Hunter Cattoor added 10. Pedulla, whose minutes were managed very closely by Young, had seven points and looked like he was getting better as the game went along.
Virginia Tech took care of the ball, only having seven turnovers and they shot 23-for-54 from the field and 10-for-29 from behind the arc. Going forward, if they can shoot the ball that well, they are going to be tough to beat. They have one more non-conference game at home, Thursday night against American before they begin ACC play full-time against Wake Forest on Dec. 30.