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Hokies Weather the Storm, Upset The Cyclones

By Sam Jessee | November 24
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via @HokiesMBB on X

For the first time this season, the Hokies came into the game as under dogs, 5.5 point under dogs to be exact. But for the second straight night, the Hokies walked away with a hard fought victory.

Despite a tough matchup against a physical, talented Iowa State team the Hokies were able to amass a 12 point lead late in the first half and hang on to win 71-62. The Hokies were paced by Hunter Cattoor and Sean Pedulla, who scored 18 and 17 points, respectively.

Cattoor started off hot going 3-5 from three point land in the first half as well as 3-3 from the charity stripe. Pedulla, on the other hand, started off slow but made a pair of ridiculous end of shot clock three’s late in the second half to keep a furious Cyclone rally at bay.

The Cyclones played an aggressive style of defense that gave the Hokies fits in the second half, but also led to some open looks for Tech’s shooters. In the middle third of the second half, the Hokies were only able to amass 6 points in 10 minutes. It’s the second time the Hokies offense has struggled for a long stretch this season. Against South Carolina, the Hokies went scoreless for over 6 minutes in the first half, a stretch that proved pivotal in a one-possession loss.

Against Iowa State, however, the Hokies turned up the dial on defense. The Hokies held the Cyclones to just 5-21 shooting from three and forced 13 turnovers. However, the Hokies only scored 7 points off those turnovers leading to increased pressure as the game continued.

The key to the game was at the free-throw line. The Hokies shot an impressive 20-23 (87%) from the line while the Cyclones shot a measly 15-26 (58%). Last season, the Hokies struggled to even get to the line only averaging 15 attempts per game. In 2023 the Hokies are shooting 23.6 free-throws per game.

The Cyclones were led by Milan Momcilovic, one of many talented freshman that made their way to Ames as a part of the #8 recruiting class in the nation. Momcilovic exposed some weaknesses in the Hokies’s wing defense, getting favorable matchups vs smaller guards and scoring 21 points on 7 of 10 shooting. In the second half, however, Mekhi Long was able to come in and keep the young gun in check.

Not all Hokies had a great night. MJ Collins continue to struggle from the field shooting 1-8 while Northwestern transfer Robbie Beran shot 1-4. The two combined for 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists (all from Collins) in 44 minutes of play. To their credit, both hit a pair of clutch free-throws to ice the win for the Hokies. Both are capable players in their own right, with Collins being an elite athlete and defender and Beran having the unique capability of stretching the floor as a big man that has worked so well in the Mike Young offense. However, finding the best way to use their skills is a work in progress.

Tyler Nickel scored another 10 off the bench, while Lynn Kidd continues his efficient play scoring 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Mekhi Long added a defensive boost and calming presence while freshman PG Brandon Rechsteiner was solid in 7 minutes of play.

The Hokies will face 2022-23 Final 4 team Florida Atlantic on Sunday at 1pm. The Owls are 4-1 and coming off an impressive win against Buzz Williams and the Texas A&M Aggies. It will be toughest test for the Hokies to date, and provide a massive opportunity to build on their tournament resume.

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I'm a born and raised Hokie. My first game in Lane Stadium was in September of 1997 when Tech stomped Big East rival Syracuse 31-3. 

I was born and raised in Richmond, VA, where I developed a passion for local cooking, scenic nature, and everything Orange and Maroon. I graduated from Tech with a degree in Finance in 2019 and received my Master's in Data Analytics in 2021. I'm a certified analytics nerd with a passion for data visualization and modeling, which fuels much of my work.

I joined the Sons team in 2020, and now act as the Website Content Manager overseeing all online content and mentoring our talented tea of writers. I also co-host the Two Deep podcast with Pete B.

I currently work in Virginia Beach, VA, as a data and financial analyst for LifeNet Health, a biotech and organ transplant non-profit.

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