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Virginia Tech basketball: Hokies can’t catch Miami in latest loss

Every time the Hokies got it close, the Hurricanes pulled away.

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at Virginia Tech Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies had a grand opportunity on Tuesday night with the red-hot No. 13 Miami Hurricanes in town. Tech, which knocked off Pittsburgh on Saturday, had another shot at a premier win.

As with most games this season, the Hokies came up short, falling to the ‘Canes, 76-70. Virginia Tech drops to 16-12 on the season, with a 6-11 record in ACC play.

How did it happen?

Miami virtually led the entire game, but the Hokies kept it close. It felt like the Hurricanes were pulling away throughout the game, yet the scrappy Hokies would hit a 3-pointer or reel off six points in a row to pull back within four points. Unfortunately, Tech could never close the gap.

The game felt a bit like the earlier meeting between these teams, where Tech was in until late when Miami guard Nigel Pack went unconscious from beyond the arc to sink the Hokies. Pack scored 16 points on Tuesday, and sophomore forward Norchad Omier led the ‘Canes with 17 points.

Five Miami players scored in double figures as Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller and Bensley Joseph scored 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

For the Hokies, sophomore guard Sean Pedulla led the way with 17 points, while Hunter Cattoor chipped in with 15 and Grant Basile dropped 13 points. Pedulla made just two of nine from beyond the arc and the Hokies as a team made nine of 27. Miami outrebounded Tech, 39-31.

VT’s defense was excellent in the win over Pitt but had its share of struggles against Miami. The Hurricanes’ guards continuously beat the Hokies off the dribble, and Miami had too many easy chances inside the paint.

In some good news for the Hokies, freshman Rodney Rice played. Rice was presumed out for the season with a finger injury but suited up and played 11 minutes. It was an encouraging sign and, if nothing else, gets him comfortable to contribute more next season.

We are past done debating Tech’s NCAA chances. That’s not happening. Now, the Hokies must get ready for a trip to Durham to play a Duke team that is playing well and looking for revenge.