For the final time in 2024, the Virginia Tech men's basketball team played a non-conference game, hosting American University at Cassell Coliseum Thursday night. Right before tip-off, it was reported that Sean Pedulla was going to miss his second game in less than two weeks. Injured at the end of a 75-68 ACC victory over Louisville on Dec. 3, Pedulla missed the Hokies game against Valparaiso on Dec. 9 but returned against Vermont on Dec. 16.
Without their point guard, the Hokies were able to jump out to a 37-29 halftime lead after the Eagles were 5-for-7 from beyond the arc to stay in the game. Of course, as things usually do, American cooled off in the second half going just 3-for-8 from 3-point land and Virginia Tech used a career-high from center Lynn Kidd to close out non-conference play with a 22-point win to improve to 9-3. Here are five quick takeaways.
1. Lynn Kidd had a huge game
It was clear where the Hokies wanted to get the ball early and often against the Eagles. Kidd had a first half to remember by 8-for-8 from the field for 16 points and he had five rebounds. He scored 12 of the final 17 Virginia Tech points in the half with most coming on dunks. In the second half, the senior scored 17 points for a career-high 31 with 11 rebounds against the Eagles. He made his first eight field goals and finished 14-for-15 from the field. He is turning into one of the most improved Hokies this season and they need everything they are getting from him.
2. Brandon Rechsteiner had a good game in place of Pedulla
Without Pedulla, head coach Mike Young started Rechsteiner, and the freshman from Georgia played well running the offense. In the first half, he had five assists. Rechsteiner finished with 11 assists and just turnovers. It was a big confidence-boost performance from the Georgia native.
3. MJ Collins provided big lift off the bench
Collins missed the Hokies win over Vermont, but returned against the Eagles and played a big role off the bench. In 22 minutes he had 12 points and was active on the defensive end forcing turnovers, which led to run out baskets. He was 5-for-8 from the field including a big 3-pointer in the first half and a nice three-point play in the second half.
4. Hunter Cattoor struggled without Pedulla
Cattoor made his first 3-pointer of the game in the first half but finished with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting and 2-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. He finished with a pair of assists. He can be a difference-maker in ACC play begins in full next week.
5. Virginia Tech defended better in the second half
After the Eagles were 5-for-7 from behind the 3-point line in the opening 20 minutes, the Hokies did a better job defending the 3-point line in the second half. They limited American's open looks and forced them into some tough shots where they ended just 3-for-8. They created nine Eagles turnovers and turned their defense into offense to pull away.
Virginia Tech is now off until Dec. 30 when they travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to play Wake Forest. It will be the Hokies second ACC game, but the first for the Demon Deacons. Tech is hoping that the rest Pedulla is going to get around Christmas will make him available when conference play kicks into full gear.