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Jan 12, 2024 6:31 pm

Miami tries to shake ugly loss when it visits improving Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech and Miami are in vastly different mindsets entering their Atlantic Coast Conference matchup Saturday night in Blacksburg, Va.

While Virginia Tech (10-5, 2-2 ACC) is coming off its best win of the season, 87-72 over No. 21 Clemson on Wednesday, Miami (11-4, 2-2) is reeling from its worst loss of the year the same night, 80-71 at home to Louisville.

The Hokies’ victory was propelled by Sean Pedulla (32 points, seven assists, four steals) and Tyler Nickel (24 points). It was a career-high scoring night for both as they combined to make 11 of 17 shots from beyond the arc.

In improving to 8-0 at home, Virginia Tech won for the first time this season over a ranked team. The Hokies fell to No. 19 Florida Atlantic 84-50 on Nov. 26.

The only downside in the victory Wednesday was an injury to Hunter Cattoor, who departed in the first half and did not return after he was inadvertently kicked in the head by a Clemson player.

Afterward, Virginia Tech coach Mike Young didn’t know the extent of the injury. But he was happy with how his team played without their defensive standout and most experienced player. Cattoor averages 13.5 points and 0.9 steals in a team-high 30.7 minutes per game.

“I’m proud of our team and their response to that adversity,” Young said.

Miami’s defeat was a stunner. It came against a Louisville team that had lost 22 straight road games and not beaten a power conference team this year.

The Hurricanes’ Matthew Cleveland (22 points, 12 rebounds) tied it with a dunk with 3:28 left, but Miami didn’t score the rest of the way as it missed its final seven shots.

“We were awful from start to finish,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “I heard another coach called us soft and we were.”

Wooga Poplar (18 points) returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. But two other Miami players who also have been slowed by ankle sprains, Norchad Omier and Nijel Pack, combined for just 15 points, less than half their combined average.

“This will leave a bad taste, and I have full confidence that we’ll be ready on Saturday,” Pack said.

–Field Level Media

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