Mercifully, it’s over. That’s Virginia Tech’s 2022-23 men’s basketball season, as the Hokies fell to Cincinnati 81-72 in the first round of the NIT Wednesday.
Tech went into halftime holding a 33-29 lead behind senior forward Grant Basile’s 10 first-half points. The two teams went back and forth throughout the first 20 minutes until the Hokies took control late.
The second half began much like the first half. However, midway through the second half, the Bearcats began to take over on the strength of their outside shooting. After not making a 3-pointer in the first half, Cincinnati knocked down six in the second half, led by Jeremiah Davenport, who made three treys and scored 12 points off the bench for the Bearcats.
For Virginia Tech, outside shooting again was a problem. For the game, the Hokies made six of 26 from beyond the arc, an average of 23%. Sophomore guard Sean Pedulla, who has seemingly been cold since January, missed all five of his attempts from 3-point range. Basile, who was hot in the first half, made only two of seven from beyond the arc after making his first two attempts. With under three minutes remaining, Basile had two wide-open looks behind the 3-point line and missed them both. That’s the tale of Virginia Tech’s season.
Oh, and the defense. Tech’s defense failed to get critical stops late in the game. Every time the Hokies would score on offense to either take the lead or come within one, the defense caved. Rebounding was again an issue, with the Bearcats outrebounding the Hokies 42-29.
For as exciting as Mike Young and the Hokies finished the 2021-22 season, this season was equally as frustrating. A flawed roster with some players not performing up to expectations was just an ugly three-month stretch for Virginia Tech. You would see the potential at times and then the frustration in games like the ACC Tournament loss to N.C. State and the second-half performance vs. Cincinnati.
The Hokies will look different next season. Change is inevitable. And Justyn Mutts is out of eligibility. Also, Hunter Cattoor and Grant Basile are seniors but have a year of eligibility remaining. Their current plans are unknown.
It’s a disappointing ending to the career of Mutts. What a three years it has been for him in Blacksburg, and he’ll be remembered as one of the more beloved Hokies in school history.
So long, 2022-23.