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Sean Pedulla and Tyler Nickel Dazzle, Virginia Tech Prevails Over No. 21 Clemson

By Zachary Ozmon | January 10
Tyler Nickel caught fire off the bench dropping a season high 24 points and five threes. (Kyle Beene)

The Virginia Tech Hokies (10-5, 2-2 ACC) acquired a crucial win Wednesday night as they triumphed over the No. 21-ranked Clemson Tigers (11-4, 1-3 ACC) by a score of 87-72, the Hokies highest point total this season since they put up 98 against Wofford.

With the win, the Hokies move to 8-0 at home and pick up their first ranked win of the season, evening their record in ACC play.

“I thought we shared the ball; Tyler Nickel had his best game in a Hokie uniform; it was one of those team wins where everyone played well," said Head Coach Mike Young.

“We did a great job of being physical without fouling, and it’ll have to continue. We did all of that on the defensive end, and we had to. The ball felt us; their team felt us, and they have to; that's a big deal.”

Sean Pedulla led the charge for the Hokies, as he finished the game with a season-high 32 points as well as seven assists, shooting 9-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-10 from deep. After a 26-point performance last time out against Florida State, Pedulla is getting back into the groove of things after suffering a foot injury in mid-December.

“He’s built on the right stuff; he wants to win; he wants to play well and help the team win,” said Young. I thought he was as much of a floor general today as he's been in some time."

“You tip your cap when that ball hits the bottom of the barrel, and he did that with regularity.”

Virginia Tech led much of the way in the first half, leading by as much as thirteen points late in the half.

But it wasn’t all smiles for the Hokies as Hunter Cattoor went down with an apparent injury at the 3:32 mark after taking incidental contact on a loose ball. Cattoor would exit the floor and later be ruled out for the rest of the game. With Cattoor ruled out, the Hokies had to handle the adversity of the injury.

“We talked about adversity and what you are going to do,” said Young. This is a breeding ground for what's coming in the future. We had some adversity at Florida State and against Wake, and we didn’t handle it well.”

“So how are we going to handle it? And they answered it and did so with flying colors.”

Despite losing their veteran presence on the court, the Hokies continued to battle as the Tigers attempted to claw their way back into the game, getting back to within four points on four different occasions.

“It's the game, and they (Clemson) are good. Good players responded, and theirs did; they made several stabs at us in the second half,” said Young.

"We were trying to find our footing without Cattoor, dealing with a lot of things, but I’m awfully proud of our team and their response to that adversity.”

Virginia Tech continued to show resilience and would ultimately close out the game on a 17-6 run. A run that may have saved the Hokies season.

It wasn’t just a fantastic performance from Sean Pedulla that proved to be a force in the contest; Tyler Nickel also added a season-high 24 points off the bench, shooting 8-of-11 from the field and 5-of-7 from deep. Nickel caught fire early in the game and was sizzling all night long.

Other key performances from the game included Robbie Beran notching eight points and eight rebounds, Mehki Long totaling eight points and seven rebounds, and MJ Collins adding seven assists.

The whole team played as one unit tonight and ultimately got the ranked ACC win they desperately needed to stay afloat in the very stacked conference.

“We’ve got to get good play across the board, and we did that today,” said Young. I thought Mehki and Robbie were outstanding. Great job, a really great job.”

Upcoming for the Hokies is a date with the Hurricanes as they come into Cassell on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. After their most recent loss to Louisville on Wednesday night, Miami will look to get back on track while Virginia Tech searches for another potential quality ACC win.

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Born in Chesapeake and raised into a family of hokies, Virginia Tech is where I call home now. Attended New River Community College as a freshman and now a sophomore at VT as a transfer student in Fall 2022. Majoring in Sports Media and Analytics, I’m excited for what’s to come for me as a student at VT.

Virginia Tech sports has always been something I have been a fan of. From afternoons in Lane Stadium to nights in Cassell Coliseum, I have loved every second of it no matter the outcome.

One of my first memories of being a Tech fan was our upset win against Ohio State 35-21 where CB Donovan Riley had the game sealing pick-6. More recently, beating UNC in 6 overtimes, our run to the sweet 16, and of course winning the men’s basketball ACC Championship with upsets over UNC and Duke.

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