The Virginia Tech Hokies improved to 10-1 Sunday with a 70-65 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitiational from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
It was almost a tale of two halves for the Hokies who went into halftime with what felt like a comfortable 34-25 lead. Senior forward Justyn Mutts and sophomore point guard Sean Pedulla powered the Hokies in the first half, combining for 21 points. Tech held the Cowboys to 37.9% from the field and forced 10 turnovers in the first half.
However, around four minutes into the second half. Ok. State finally took the lead on a Moussa Cisse layup and the score was 39-38. Over the next several minutes, the teams exchanged buckets with Oklahoma State opening up a five-point lead with around 13:22 remaining in the game.
Tech finally appeared to seize back control of the game at the under-eight timeout when Pedulla drilled a jumper to give the Hokies a 51-49 lead. The teams kept exchanging scores until around two minutes remaining in the game when OSU scored to tie the game at 60.
From there, the Hokies took control for good when forward Mylyjael Poteat hit two free throws. Mutts made one of two free throws, followed by a bucket to give Tech a 65-60 lead. Senior guard Hunter Cattoor drilled both of his free throws with 37 seconds remaining to open VT’s lead to seven points. From there, it was just about finishing the game at the free-throw line, which the Hokies did, holding on for a hard-fought five-point win.
When the new polls are released Monday, the Hokies should be included.
Pedulla finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Mutts filled the stat sheet with 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and six steals. Senior forward Grant Basile added 13 points and six rebounds, while Cattoor contributed nine points.
Poteat gave the Hokies 15 strong minutes off the bench, scoring eight points and pulling down six rebounds.
The Hokies shot 38.6% from the field and made seven of 20 from beyond the arc. Tech was excellent from the charity stripe, making 19 of 24 attempts. The Hokies forced 17 turnovers and had 11 steals.
This was a good effort from head coach Mike Young’s squad. OSU is a talented team that the Hokies should beat. When things appeared to be heading south in the second half, the Hokies buckled down and finished. An early takeaway from this team is that it finishes games.
Virginia Tech is next in action Saturday from Cassell Coliseum as Grambling comes to Blacksburg.