Going into the first Commonwealth Clash on the hardwood for the 2023-24 season for Virginia Tech and Virginia, the game plan for the Hokies was rather simple. Defend the 3-point line, get good looks on the offensive end, and take care of the basketball. Easier said than done.
The Hokies dug themselves a seven-point halftime deficit thanks to four first-half 3-pointers for Virginia and got within four points on the opening possession of the second half, but the Cavaliers (12-5) regained their double-digit lead. Whenever Virginia Tech made a run in the second half, the Cavaliers responded to pick up the ACC victory. Here are five takeaways after the Hokies fell to 10-7 and 2-4 in the ACC.
1. Taking care of the ball was going to be big for the Hokies and they failed to do it. They found themselves down seven points at halftime and a lot of that had to do with 10 first-half turnovers and some of them were frustrating because they were unforced. Turning the ball over 15 times in Charlottesville is not going to result in a win.
2. One matchup to watch was the scoring battle between Virginia Tech's Sean Pedulla and Virginia's Reece Beekman. Pedulla was coming in off of two straight 30-point games and the Cavaliers never let him get anywhere near comfortable passing, shooting, or dribbling the ball in the first half. He caught fire in the second half and finished with 18 points, but seven turnovers. On the other hand, Beekman had 16 points, four assists, and four rebounds and he only committed four turnovers.
3. In what has become a concerning trend for the Hokies, it was another rough night offensively for Lynn Kidd, who had two points on three shots. He made some nice passes out of the post but rarely looked to shoot, he was outplayed by Jordan Minor on both ends. Minor had 16 points, and five rebounds and was able to finish around the basket and get to the free-throw line where he was 6-for-8.
4. Hunter Cattoor returned to the Virginia Tech lineup after missing the second half of the Clemson game and the Miami game Saturday with a head injury suffered against the Tigers. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting and a pair of 3-pointers.
5. This game was there for the taking for Virginia Tech, but they simply could not get any stops defensively in the second half, committed way too many turnovers, and played from behind the entire game. Not a good combination against a Cavaliers team that plays tough defense and uses nearly the entire shot clock on the other end and will make you defend them for a long time.
Virginia Tech returns to action Saturday afternoon at North Carolina State at noon with an opportunity to collect a Quad 1 victory over the Wolfpack. If the Hokies are going to have an opportunity to get a win against a good team on the road, they'll have to play a lot better.