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Virginia Tech coach Mike Young says Penn State 'flattened our nose'

Virginia Tech coach Mike Young says Penn State 'flattened our nose'

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BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech men's basketball team's first loss of the season came in lopsided fashion.

Penn State cruised past the 15th-ranked Hokies 75-55 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on Tuesday night at Cassell Coliseum.

"Penn State came in here and flattened our nose. And did it so early," Tech coach Mike Young said. "Surprised. Disappointed in our response."

Tech (4-1) suffered its most lopsided home defeat since a 78-52 loss to Virginia in January 2018, when Buzz Williams was the Hokies' coach.

The Nittany Lions (3-1) jumped to a 17-3 lead and led the rest of the way.

"They got us back on our heels … on both ends," Young said. "Banging shots left and right. Our shot contestment wasn't good.

"We find ourselves reeling and [Penn State's] 1-2-2 [pressure defense] slowed us down offensively. We had a hard time getting into a rhythm there.

"They popped us right in the mouth and we didn't respond very well."

The loss snapped Tech's 35-game home winning streak against nonleague foes. It was Tech's first nonconference home defeat since Williams' Hokies suffered a December 2015 loss to West Virginia.

"Today's game was about trying to wear these guys out," Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry said.

"We're known for playing fast, and people talk about that on offense all the time. … I felt we needed to play fast defensively today. … We used our speed and athleticism to really guard them all over the floor tonight, and I thought that was the biggest key to the game."

In an overtime loss to Seton Hall on Sunday night, Penn State blew a 19-point first-half lead.

The Nittany Lions kept their lead this time.

The Hokies trailed by 19 points at halftime and by as many as 29 points in the second half.

"We talked about it. … If this game is an AAU game, up and down, and quick shots, poor ball-handling, that is not going to bode well for our team," Young said. "This has got to be longer possessions, hitting one and two sides of the floor each time, playing through Keve [Aluma] in the post. We didn't have that.

"Everything they throw in the air seems like it's going in the hole. But that's not the basketball gods. That's Virginia Tech's defense. We weren't nearly as good on that end as I've come to expect."

Junior guard Izaiah Brockington had a career-high 24 points for Penn State, which shot 50% from the field.

The Nittany Lions were 12 of 23 from 3-point range (52.2%).

"We were letting them shoot right in our face," Tech point guard Wabissa Bede said. "A lot of those 3s weren't contested."

Tech shot 37% from the field. The Hokies were 6 of 22 from 3-point range (27.3%).

"They crawled right up under us," Young said of the Penn State defense. "Our shot selection was not very good at all. I'm shocked.

"We fell into the old trap; we wanted to get it all back in one shot. And that's not the way it plays out.

"Their pressure and their tenacity on the defensive end contributed to some of that."

The Hokies struggled offensively for the second straight game.

Tech was coming off a 64-57 win over VMI last Thursday in which it shot just 35% from the field and only 14.8% (4 of 27) from 3-point range.

The Hokies committed 14 turnovers to Penn State's five.

"Our numbers are all out of whack — eight assists and 14 turnovers," Young said.

In the first half, Tech had 10 turnovers and Penn State none.

"We chart deflections. We chart contested passes. And we weren't good enough," Young said of of his defense not forcing turnovers.

Penn State won even though its leading scorer this season, Seth Lundy, had no points. He entered the game averaging 22.3 points. Lundy played just nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.

Down 3-0, the Nittany Lions scored 17 straight points to build a 17-3 lead with 13:21 left in the first half.

Virginia Tech was shooting just 12.5% from the field and was 1 of 6 from 3-point range at that point. Tech had five turnovers at that point.

Bede said Penn State's fast pace was the problem.

"We were trying to tell ourselves not to play like that — play our style," Bede said. "I blame myself as the leader of the team.

"We're not good that way. We're great at our style and our pace. When we try to play like them, you can see in the first six minutes, it didn't go well for us.

"I need to control the pace a lot better.

"We weren't spreading them out, moving the ball side to side."

Penn State led 42-23 at halftime. The Hokies had more turnovers (10) than baskets (nine) in the first half.

Reserve guard Jalen Cone had 11 points off the bench for Tech, which fell to 0-4 against Penn State in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Tech reserve Hunter Cattoor, who has been dealing with strep throat, played less than a minute.

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Mark Berman covers Virginia Tech men’s basketball and many other teams at the university. He also helps cover other colleges, including Radford, VMI, Roanoke, Washington and Lee and Ferrum.

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