Hokies finally break through against Pitt

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Adam Smith launches his game winning three-pointer late in overtime.
Adam Smith launches his game winning three-pointer late in overtime. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech finally broke their seven game losing streak by beating Pitt 70-67 in overtime in Cassell Coliseum on Tuesday night.  The Hokies are now 9-11 overall and 1-6 in the ACC, while Pitt dropped to 13-8 and 3-5 in conference play.

In today’s game preview, we talked about scoring opportunities and how Tech was being beaten up on the offensive glass and to a lesser extent in turnover margin.  That wasn’t the case on Tuesday.

Offensive rebounds: Pitt 15, VT 12
Turnovers: Pitt 11, VT 9

That’s a -3 in offensive rebounds, and a +2 in turnovers, for a margin of -1, meaning that Pitt had just one more shot opportunity than the Hokies.  The box score backs that up, as the Panthers attempted 61 field goals to Tech’s 60.  Both teams attempted 17 free throws, and for once the Hokies held the advantage at the charity stripe.

VT: 12-of-17 (70.6%)
Pitt: 9-of-17 (52.9%)

It was a gutsy win for the Hokies, who were coming off that tough loss to UVA on Sunday.

“I think it says a lot about what they went through Sunday afternoon and what they went through since Sunday afternoon to be in the position we are in right now,” Buzz Williams said after the game.

Tech’s stars were Adam Smith and Malik Mueller.  Smith scored 26 points, nailing the game-tying three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, and the game-winning three-pointer with 3.4 seconds left in overtime.  His shot to tie the game came from approximately the same spot that he barely missed a potential game-tying three-pointer against #2 UVA on Sunday.  He went 9-of-17 from the field and 6-of-11 from the outside.

Mueller’s performance was just as important, and much more unexpected.  He came into the game averaging 4.2 points per contest, and was shooting just over 31% from the field.  He had not scored in double figures since the season opener.  He dropped 22 points on the Panthers, going 8-of-19 from the field and 4-of-9 from three-point range.

As a team, the Hokies shot 12-of-27 (44.4%) from the outside, and that turned out to be the difference in the game.  With Shane Henry and Satchel Pierce ineffective, Buzz Williams used Mueller (6-3) at power forward and Christian Beyer (6-7) at center for most of the game, and rotated his defense between man and a 2-3 zone.  Beyer had seven points and five rebounds, including a critical “and-one” late in regulation that kept the Hokies in the game.

Despite holding a 29-24 lead at halftime, the Hokies found themselves trailing 60-53 with 2:11 left in regulation.  They managed to overcome that deficit, and rallied to tie the game thanks to Smith’s heroics.

After the Hokies cut the lead to 60-59, James Robinson hit a runner in the lane for Pitt to make the score 62-59 with 17 seconds remaining.  Malik Mueller then missed a three-pointer to tie the game, but Christian Beyer grabbed the offensive rebound with seven seconds left and the ball eventually got to Adam Smith, who nailed a very deep three-pointer to tie the game.

Pitt took an early lead in overtime, but the game was tied at 67 with 1:07 remaining.  The Hokies got the last shot after a loose ball was ruled to go off Pitt with 29 seconds left.  From there, the Hokies inbounded and Adam Smith made the game-winning shot with 3.4 seconds left.  Pitt’s last second desperation heave was no good.

Finally in the win column, the Hokies will now play Wake Forest in Winston-Salem this Saturday at 2pm.  The game will be televised by RSN.  Check your local listings.

The highlights below are provided by Niemo of TechHoops.com.

Box Score

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13 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. great clutch shooting, no question, however the key to me was free throws. For most of the season our free throw shooting has been deplorable- less than 50%. Last night we were over 70% and Pitt was at 50%. We scored 3 more points from the line than they did. And guess what, we won by 3 points. Buzz, keep on pushing FT’s in practice. Remember what was said about Erik, he lived in the gym and took hundreds of practice shots per day.

  2. “With Shane Henry and Satchel Pierce ineffective, Buzz Williams used Mueller (6-3) at power forward and Christian Beyer (6-7) at center for most of the game, and rotated his defense between man and a 2-3 zone.”

    One thing I did notice is that, with JVZ gone, Satchel Pierce is getting more minutes and, when he’s in the game, seems to be around the ball a lot. He’s a big guy with limited experience but he seems to have decent hands and makes some nice plays on D. He’s not a go-to guy on offense but if he can find the open man when the ball goes into him, he could be an important facilitator. I’m starting to see his potential and I hope Buzz keeps giving him minutes.

  3. Berman is crazy annoying. Adam looked tired of all his questions, especially the ones that start off with a negative tone….”you’ve lost 7 straight, blah blah blah”. He seemed to ask the same stuff over and over.

    1. YES!!! I just read Berman’s article and compared to CC’s solid article – what a difference. Berman is so obviously negative toward VT and so pro-UVA it’s ridiculous.

  4. Russian Hokie – great shot of Adam Smith and his focus and form on the game winner.

    Great win. As for Mueller, I bet Pitt is moaning a bit like we often do about “how did THAT guy suddenly turn into an all star against us???”

  5. Beating Pitt, after our uva loss, is huge Hokie Nation. Fight and passion from our players and coaches….remarkable.

  6. The UVA game , IMO, gave this team a dose of confidence in their selves . They could get a couple more surprises before this season is over . Go Hokies

      1. I feel like this is CBW motivation. Serious growing pains, but the program is definitely improving.

        Despite the previous losses, does this put VT in about the middle of the pack in terms of capability, at this specific moment? Good luck against WF!

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