Virginia Tech Beats Pitt 70-64

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Kerry Blackshear had a huge game against Pitt. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

No. 16/22 Virginia Tech defeated Pitt 70-64 on the road on Saturday afternoon.  The Hokies improved to 20-5 overall, marking their fourth consecutive 20-win season.  They moved to 9-4 in league play.  Pitt dropped 12-14 overall and 2-11 in the ACC.

This is the first time in over 30 years that the Hokies have had four consecutive 20-win seasons.  They won 20 or more games for five straight years from 1981 through 1986. It’s only the second time in program history that Virginia Tech basketball has accomplished this feat.

Missing Justin Robinson yet again with a foot injury, Virginia Tech didn’t exactly dominate the game, but they led nearly all of it despite a scrappy performance from the freshmen-laden Panthers.  Kerry Blackshear was the star of the game, scoring 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds.  He was 8-of-9 from the field, 3-of-3 from three-point range, and 10-of-11 from the free throw line.  He also had three assists.

Ahmed Hill had 14 points, while Ty Outlaw added seven points and nine rebounds.  Nickeil Alexander-Walker had just nine points, but he spent nearly all of the game in foul trouble.  He did not start the second half because he had three fouls, and he spent large stretches of the first half on the bench, playing just 17 minutes overall.  Freshman Jonathan Kabongo came off the bench to hit two big three-pointers, and he also had an assist and a steal in 13 minutes.

Wabissa Bede struggled to make an impact in terms of scoring yet again, but he made huge plays in other ways.  Bede finished with seven assists and two steals, and also had a huge block on a three-point attempt late in the game that would have closed the gap to two points.

The statistics in this game were nearly even, with the exception of three-point shooting.  The Hokies were 10-of-21 (47.6%) from the outside, while Pitt was just 6-of-22 (27.3%).  Both teams made 18 free throws, and the Hokies had a +3 advantage on the boards and a +1 advantage in turnovers, though Pitt outscored Tech 16-10 off those turnovers.

Virginia Tech got off to a great start in this game, with a three-pointer from Kerry Blackshear putting his team up 17-6 with 12:16 remaining in the first half.  However, Nickeil Alexander-Walker picked up his second foul less than two minutes later, and as we saw earlier this year against UNC, the Tech offense just doesn’t work very well with both Alexander-Walker and Justin Robinson on the bench.  The Hokies scored just five points over the next eight minutes, and the Panthers were able to take a 24-22 lead.

To make matters worse, Buzz Williams put Alexander-Walker back into the game with the offense struggling, and he quickly picked up his third foul at the 3:23 mark.  However, the Hokies were able to outplay Pitt down the stretch despite his absence.  Freshman guard Isaiah Wilkins hit a three-pointer to put Tech up 29-26, and then Wabissa Bede grabbed a defensive rebound and took it coast-to-coast for a layup to close the half to make the score 31-26 at the intermission.

Alexander-Walker started the second half on the bench thanks to his three fouls, and he did not return to the game until the 13:14 mark.  At that point the Hokies led 38-35, so they were only outscored by two by the Panthers with Alexander-Walker on the bench. 

The game remained close until finally the Hokies were able to get some separation with under 10 minutes remaining.  With his team leading 48-46, Kerry Blackshear hit a three-pointer to make it 51-46.  That was followed by a Ty Outlaw three-pointer with 6:35 remaining, and then an outside jumper by Jonathan Kabongo made it 57-46 Hokies with 5:44 left in the game.  That gave the Hokies a 9-0 run in less than two minutes, and Virginia Tech eventually led by as many as 12 points.

Pitt did make one final run, cutting the margin to 67-62 with 34 seconds remaining. The Panthers then stole a wild pass by Kerry Blackshear, and Pitt’s Ndir Sidy attempted a three-pointer with 22 seconds left. Bede blocked it and then recovered the ball, ending Pittsburgh’s comeback. Nickeil-Alexander Walker closed out the game with three out of four free throws the rest of the way, and the Hokies walked out of Pittsburgh with the win.

Virginia Tech returns to action on Monday night when they host No. 4 Virginia.  Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm, and the game will be televised by ESPN.

Virginia Tech Box Score

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27 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I love NAW, his personality, his team work, his defense (super), by far his skill level. But in his recent games, don’t think he stays an early NBA pick, not as a point guard. Hope he can re-enforce that !st round pick-level, by proving it next year.

    1. I get that he sees stuff before other people see it, hence the steals and just being at the right time, but yeah, I don’t understand the uncomfortable FTs, the ball handling, and some fouls, The NBA will just send him to boot camp and everything will be fixed?

      Honestly, JRob being out is great for his game (to improve)

    2. Five has set the template for the point – others take note. Agreed NAW needs another year of development – someone needs to work with him on his foul shooting mechanics. Five being out ironically has been a silver lining of sorts for bench development. Any word on the timing of his return?

  2. Nice! This team can beat ND and Miami. I’d be happy and relieved to end up 11-7 without JR. Great to see Wilkins and Kobongo contributing and gives me some hope for next year.

  3. Bede made some huge plays and finally got to the line (couldn’t convert but hey). Kabongo made some key plays, too. Hill is maximizing his skillset as a hustler, rebounder, & fast break threat. Solid contributions from everyone. KJ with a dominating performance. Despite not getting shots, Ty was great on the boards. Demonstratd excellent team chemistry in this hard fought road win. Tech continues to get better and that’s encouraging in the face of adversity.

  4. Very impressed by Kabongo today! Feeling better about our future already. Go Hokies! Beat the Wha? Who’s?

    1. yeah, kabongo is going to be a very good one by the time his eligibility runs out. if NAW comes back for another (to hone his point guard skills) and chris clarke is reinstated, next year’s team should also be exciting. 🤞🤞

  5. Bede needs to control his tunovers. Did I see three from him in four straight possessions? Good gutsy win guys!

    1. 7 assists to 3 turnovers. That is a good ratio. Also 2 steals and 1 critical block. That is very productive.

    1. Yep all 7 of those assists, the layup at the end of the first half and the 3 point block and rebound at the end of the game were pure flub…

      1. That is what I saw as well

        Played a pretty solid game

        If one of his threes went down and both of his free throws the stat sheet would have looked better but I thought he played solid especially how he closed both halves

      2. Pretty solid game, just needs to get more comfortable with his shooting, but at times shows improvements there as well. If he develops a better shooting touch he could become a great weapon. Needs to learn how to score when driving to the basket. Maybe still adjusting to the size and athleticism of college players.

    2. 7 assists to 3 turnovers. That is a good ratio. Also 2 steals and 1 critical block. That is very productive.
      I feel that the criticism of Bede is only because he isn’t JRob. I’ll take his stats from yesterday every time.

  6. Knew it was going to be a tough day for the Hokies when I saw that Jerry Heater was one of the officials.

  7. I’m elated any time we beat Pitt in anything, especially up there. Historically, that town has been very unkind to the Hokies. Any road win is a good one. Go Hokies!

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