BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Sean Pedulla scored 21 points to lead No. 24 Virginia Tech to a 74-48 victory over Grambling State on Saturday.
Pedulla shot 5 for 12 from the floor and had four 3-pointers for the Hokies (11-1), who won their sixth straight game. Virginia Tech is making its first appearance in The Associated Press poll since finishing the 2020-21 season ranked No. 25.
“We’ve got a chance,” Virginia Tech coach Mike Young said. “I’ve said to you guys before that I don’t think we’re approaching where we’re going to be in mid-January, late January, early February, and beyond. Slowly, but surely, we’re getting there. Our defense has taken an uptick. Our teams typically take a step ahead during this holiday season. Studies are over, and you’ve got a chance to really put it together. I’m looking forward to this next segment of our season."
Carte’are Gordon scored 12 points to lead Grambling State (6-4), which saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
Pedulla, who added six assists, continued his strong play, finishing a point short of his career high. He now has scored in double figures in every game this season.
Pedulla scored eight points during a huge first-half run that sparked the Hokies. Virginia Tech trailed by eight midway through the first half, but closed the first 20 minutes with a 21-2 run to take a 34-25 lead at halftime and never trailed again. The Tigers missed 10 of their final 11 shots in the first half and committed six turnovers in the final 10 minutes.
“We knew what kind of team they were,” Virginia Tech forward Hunter Cattoor said. “We weren’t overlooking them or anything. They came out and it felt like they couldn’t miss a shot at the start of the game. We couldn’t get anything going. … That was a slow start for us, but defensively we started getting going once we started getting stops. I don’t know what the run was, but once we hunkered down defensively and kind of got stops, it helped our offensive game.”
Cattoor added 13 points for the Hokies, who shot 51% (26 of 51) and hit 11 3-pointers. Virginia Tech has shot better than 50% in six games this season.
Grambling State: The Tigers had won four of their previous five games, including a win at Vanderbilt on Dec. 9, but sloppy ball handling (19 turnovers) and poor shooting (36.5%, 19 of 52), particularly toward the end of the first half, ruined their chances of a third win over a Power-5 team this season.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies wrapped up a somewhat soft nonconference slate with a 10-1 record, but they should find out more about themselves with two Atlantic Coast Conference road games to close the calendar year. Virginia Tech has played just one ranked team this season — North Carolina, which played that game without its best player and no longer is in the Top 25.
“I like where this team is, definitely,” Pedulla said. “Eleven-and-1one is obviously a very good start. We’ve beaten the teams that we’re supposed to beat, but it’s just like a new chapter now. We’re turning the page into conference play. We realize we have a tough Boston College team to play next Wednesday, and it’s at Boston College. I think we lost there last year. It’s definitely a tough place to play, but we’ll be looking forward to this next chapter.”
Grambling State: The Tigers play at Liberty on Monday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies play at Boston College on Wednesday.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25