Virginia Tech’s dream season ended Friday when the Texas Longhorns defeated the Hokies, 81-73, in the first round of the East Regional.
The Longhorns dominated the second half, opening up a 17-point lead at one point and maintaining that double-digit lead until the final minutes when the Hokies made a furious rally that was far too late.
It looked like the game would be a slobber knocker as both teams missed their first five shots until Virginia Tech would score six consecutive points to take a 6-0 lead. Unfortunately, that was Tech’s biggest lead of the night. The first half featured each team trading blows. The officials became a factor with under 10 minutes remaining, calling back-to-back bogus fouls on Keve Aluma, who sat the final six-and-a-half minutes of the first half. Hunter Cattoor also had two fouls and sat for an extended period before halftime.
Yet, despite being down two of their best offensive players, the Hokies were set to go into halftime with a 32-31 lead. Then, Texas inbounded the ball with 2.1 seconds left on the clock, and Marcus Carr heaved a hail mary as time expired, and it went off the glass and through the net. Suddenly, the Longhorns would hold a 34-32 lead at the break.
Considering the Hokies were without Aluma and Cattoor for stretches, that was a positive for Virginia Tech.
If not for Texas senior guard Andrew Jones, the Hokies may have gone into intermission with a significant lead, but Jones scored 17 first-half points, including five 3-point baskets. Jones entered the game as a 30% 3-point shooter. As a team, the Longhorns drained 10 of 19 from beyond the arc, while the sharpshooting Hokies made only four of 12 from the 3-point line.
The disparity between 3-point shooting was the difference in the game. Texas made it a point to defend the 3-point line, which led the Hokies to those 12 attempts from the 3-point line.
The second half was about Texas being more physical than the Hokies. Tech appeared worn out at times in the second half, while the Hokies couldn’t miss a shot. Generally, when you face a red-hot team like Texas was Friday, it’s almost impossible to win. Even when you defend well, the opponent continues to make shots. That’s how it was for the Hokies. Ask the rest of the ACC after facing the Hokies last week.
It was a sad day for Virginia Tech basketball, as Lady Hokies were upset by Florida Gulf Coast, 84-81, earlier Friday. Both teams end outstanding seasons in disappointing fashion.
Turnovers were a problem for the Hokies, as they finished with 13 turnovers and just 11 assists. Storm Murphy seemed to struggle with Texas’ length, while freshman Sean Pedulla looked more comfortable. The freshman from Oklahoma would lead Tech with 19 points off the bench.
Aluma scored 15 for Tech, while Cattoor finished with 12 points.
The Longhorns will face third-seeded Purdue Sunday in Milwaukee.
Was Friday a disappointing day? Absolutely. But does it wipe out a terrific season? No. The 2021-22 season will be a memorable one for both the men’s and women’s teams. Hopefully, both teams return strong next season. We’ll discuss Tech’s season more in-depth in the coming weeks.
Congrats to both Coach Young and Coach Brooks and each of their teams. Sad day, but the sun will come up tomorrow.