Photo Credit: Liam Sment
Virginia Tech ended non-conference play well Sunday evening with only 2 turnovers on their way to a dominant 92-37 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore. The Hokies finish the 2019 portion of their schedule at 10-3 including 1-1 in ACC play with a trip to Virginia looming to start the new year this upcoming Saturday.
The Hokies were dominant in basically every facet of this game highlighted most by the fact that they incredibly only had 2 turnovers in this game while having 7 steals and 20 assists on 32 made shots. While Tech wasn't as efficient as maybe hoped given the opposition (44.4% overall, 38.7% from 3), Mike Young was extremely pleased with how his team protected the basketball regardless of the opponent.
"I don't think I have been, and I don't care who you're playing, that's an impressive statistic. There are a lot of moving parts, and in how we want to play with that ball moving from side to side, with five guys touching it, and with those Maryland Eastern Shore kids being tough kids, physical kids, scrappy kids, and to take care of it like that. [Wabissa] Bede was 6-0 [assists- turnovers] again. Twenty assists and two turnovers are quite impressive. I think in our last four or five games we are averaging about eight turnovers, and I feel good about that. It will need to carry into the coming months," Young said.
Additionally, the Hokies' defense shut down UMES completely on the offensive end holding them to only 37 points on 23.7% shooting from the field including 26.9% from three-point range. Despite the strong defensive performance, Mike Young still sees room for his team to grow on the defensive end.
“Still, we have a long way to go. We still look so young in some regards, just in terms of our readiness, just in terms of our level of engagement and communication. They talk like chatterboxes in the locker room and in the halls, but then they go on the floor and they draw inside of themselves a little bit, and I don't like that, but they're trying. They want to communicate better and more effectively, but it is a sign of our youth that we are continually trying to work on,” Young said.
Landers Nolley was the star of this game with his first career double-double finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds on 6-13 shooting including 3-8 from three-point range. This comes after Nolley has had some recent struggles with the redshirt freshman giving lots of credit to his approach to each game as the reason for his ability to bounce back well.
“After a game is over, it’s on to the next game. I don’t dwell on old things. Just move forward, play your game and everything will work out,” Nolley said.
Hunter Cattoor also had a big game for the Hokies with 17 points and 4 rebounds on 6-9 shooting from the field including an impressive 5-7 from three-point range. Cattoor has embraced his role as a top scoring spark plug off the bench for the Hokies and mentioned how his confidence grew once he saw a couple of his shots go in.
“I just came in and I was focused. Trying to get the job done, trying to create a spark off the bench. I saw a couple shots go through and just got that good feeling going and kept playing," Cattoor said.
John Ojiako also had a career high 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 5-10 shooting from the field, gaining 20 minutes of playing time that should prove valuable in the development of the freshman big man. Tyrece Radford also was productive with 13 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals on 5-8 shooting while Jalen Cone had a strong performance off the bench with 11 points and 4 rebounds while shooting 4-7 from the field including a strong 3-4 from three-point range.
Wabissa Bede was kept off the score sheet yesterday, but he found other ways to make a difference with 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 0 turnovers; an impressive line for a point guard. P.J. Horne was relatively quiet but efficient with 7 points and 5 rebounds on 3-3 shooting while Nahiem Alleyne had a rough offensive night with 5 points on 1-10 shooting including 0-5 from three-point range. Isaiah Wilkins had 4 points and 4 rebounds while Brendan Palmer had his first 2 career points plus 3 rebounds in 6 minutes of action and Branden Johnson had 2 rebounds in 7 minutes of play.
Overall, Virginia Tech did what they were expected to as the vastly superior team against Maryland Eastern Shore. Even with that, there's no doubt that this should be a confidence booster for the Hokies as they prepare for the main portion of ACC play starting with a tough trip to Virginia this upcoming Saturday.