Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
After a tough first half against Dayton, Virginia Tech came out with a much better start against BYU. However, things didn't go so well in the second half with hot shooting from the Cougars leading the Cougars to victory in the third place game.
Virginia Tech fell to BYU 90-77 to fall to 6-2 on the season while BYU improves to 5-3 with the victory. The Hokies played well in the first half leading 37-35 at the break, but BYU took over in the second half with 13 consecutive BYU points from TJ Haws helping to ignite a 27-5 run that blew the game wide open in the Cougars' favor.
Perimeter defense was a issue for Virginia Tech especially in the second half as BYU finished the game shooting 17-34 from three-point range. BYU was also efficient from the field overall shooting 54.2% as the Hokies' defense struggled and seemed to show both physical and mental wear and tear that you would expect from a young team.
Offensively, the Hokies had a good game overall shooting 53.4% from the field including 11-22 from three-point range against a BYU team that was holding teams to under 27% from the field. Additionally, the Hokies had only 8 turnovers as they did another great job of protecting the basketball, having 10 or fewer turnovers in all three games in Maui.
While the Hokies can be encouraged by their offensive success, it's also clear that Virginia Tech is at their best when they can slow down the game and prevent the track meets that we saw against Dayton and at times against BYU. There may be times where the Hokies would be better off pushing the tempo against teams like Syracuse and Virginia but overall, the Hokies will need to slow the game down and emphasize their ball movement.
The Hokies have some work to do on their perimeter defense though part of that was due to the mental and physical wear and tear of playing three games in three days that these young players likely aren't used to at this high of a level. Additionally, Virginia Tech was over-eager at times in their rotation and defensive collapses without taking the best angles to make it harder to get the ball out of double teams, leading to multiple open threes for BYU.
While the final two results are disappointing, there's no denying that this has been a successful trip for a young Virginia Tech team to get high level experience before ACC play and ahve to learn the consistency it requires every game to compete with the best. The Hokies also showed that expectations of them being near the bottom are a little too low with this team having the potential to make the NIT, an achievement that would be impressive given Tech's immense youth.
Landers Nolley led the Hokies with 22 points and 7 rebounds on 9-18 shooting including 3-4 from three-point range. Wabissa Bede led the Hokies in assists with 7 to go with 11 points and 4 rebounds while P.J. Horne had 13 points on 5-6 shooting including 3-4 from three-point range.
Nahiem Alleyne was the fourth Hokie in double figures with 12 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds on 5-8 shooting from the field including 2-4 from three-point range. Tyrece Radford had 9 points on 4-5 shooting while Hunter Cattoor and Isaiah Wilkins each had 3 points, and Jalen Cone and John Ojiako each had 2 points.
Tech will have over a week off before they take on Duke next Friday at Cassell Coliseum at 7pm on the ACC Network.