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Virginia Tech Loses Tight Matchup with Miami Despite Pedulla's 33 Points

By Kyle Beene | January 13
Pedulla steps back and fades on the baseline for a J (Kyle Beene)

Virginia Tech dropped a close one with Miami on Saturday night, the third straight loss to the Hurricanes since the beginning of 2023.

Following a ranked win over Clemson earlier in the week where the team lost Hunter Cattoor to a head injury, the Hokies stepped into Cassell with swagger and got a great start against Miami. The Hurricanes swept the head-to-head series last season, but the newly confident Hokies were prepped to end that streak. Four quick threes, a jump shot, and a layup gave the home team a 16-7 lead nine minutes into the opening half.

Despite the slow start, Miami came out to play. Matthew Cleveland heated up with a three for his first points of the night and proceeded to throw down a pair of emphatic dunks to silence the crowd. He followed up with a layup off an offensive rebound and hit the and-one free throw for his tenth point in six minutes.

“We did everything we could to keep a body on a body,” said Head Coach Mike Young. “Sometimes good offense beats good defense.”

In the meantime, Sean Pedulla and Robbie Beran each dropped another trey to hold a lead, but Cleveland’s streak made a sizeable dent with the game’s momentum following. Already with 10 points from his pair of threes and Js, Pedulla continued his January heater with another six points before Tech went cold.

The final 90 seconds of the half saw Miami reel it back in, ignited by Wooga Poplar’s pull-up three. Cleveland followed up with another bucket for his 12th, and Nijel Pack pulled off the layup-and-one right before the buzzer to cut VT’s lead to one.

Miami busted out of the locker room with fury, dropping 10 in three minutes to take its first lead since going up 5-3 early in the first half. The Canes and Hokies would fight neck and neck for the entire half, with eight ties and seven lead changes. Neither could break an invisible wall at the five-point mark between 15:59 and the final minute, a typical down-to-the-wire game with the Hurricanes.

“Since Mike Young has been the head coach of Virginia Tech, our games have been like this one,” said Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga. “Every game, a barnburner, a nailbiter.”

With 27 seconds remaining, Cleveland was fouled by Lynn Kidd to stop the clock, and he hit the second of two free throws to break through the glass ceiling. The Hokies down six, Pedulla stepped up again and drained a long three to make it a one-possession game.

The Hokies called timeout to make subs and draw up a plan, while Miami got set to inbound. Kyshawn George went for the Hail Mary but threw it too long and it went out on the opposite baseline, now the Hokies ball. Tech advanced the ball, and MJ Collins hesitated before pulling a deep three that wouldn’t go.

“I thought he didn’t take the better look he had. He gathered himself, which allowed the defender to get a better ability to contest the shot,” said Young.

Beran fouled Pack to stop the clock, and he hit one of two to take the Canes up four. Pedulla hustled down for a three in hopes of drawing a foul and hitting the shot, but got neither as the buzzer went off.

“Both of us played good defense, and fortunately for us in the second half, we were able to kind of inch away,” said Larrañaga.

Pedulla continued his January hot streak post-injury with 33-10-4 with five made threes. Behind him was Kidd with 16 points and four rebounds. Cattoor is “day-to-day with a head injury” according to Young, and the team hopes to have him back soon as a centerpiece in the lineup.

Cleveland had 21 points on 11 shots and hit six free throws. Pack had 19-8-5 with a block and a steal, Norchad Omier had 14 points and five boards, and Poplar finished with 11.

“We grew up this week,” said Young. “It’s a long year. There’s a lot of trials that teams go through. I thought we played as well tonight as we played Wednesday.”

Virginia Tech will look to bounce back against in-state rival UVA (11-5, 2-3 ACC) on Wednesday for its sixth ACC game. The Cavaliers are in the middle of a two-game skid, winning just one of three games in the new year.

Me Ronnie

Born into a family of Hokies, I can remember watching Frank Beamer and Tyrod Taylor on Saturdays with the family, so attending VT was always the dream. 


In 2020, I began my time at Virginia Tech in the Sports Media Analytics program and eventually joined the Sons in January of 2023 as the softball beat writer. Now, I’ve got football, basketball, and baseball coverage, plus you’ll see some of my photographs in articles throughout the website. 


Graduation is on the horizon, but I can’t wait to come back in the fall to begin my Master’s and continue working with the team!


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