Virginia Tech snapped a five-game skid by defeating Pitt 67-57 in Cassell Coliseum on Saturday evening. The Hokies improved to 15-10 overall and 6-8 in the ACC with the victory, while the Panthers dropped to 15-11 and 6-9.
Tech led for most of the game, with Pitt’s final lead coming on a three-pointer by Trey McGowens to make the score 13-10 with 12:34 remaining in the first half. The Hokies tied the game on a Jalen Cone three-pointer on their ensuing possession, and then took the lead for good on a Hunter Cattoor three-pointer with 11:37 remaining in the half. Tech led by as many as 14 points in the first half before a late 5-0 run by the Panthers cut the lead to 32-23 at halftime.
The Hokies began the second half with a 12-2 run that was capped by another Cone three-pointer to make the score 44-25 with 16:28 remaining. It looked as if Tech would run away with the game, but that 19-point lead turned out to be their largest of the game. They also led 51-32 with 12:58 remaining.
Pitt switched to a 2-3 zone defense and whittled the lead down to six points, 59-53, with 3:21 left. However, back-to-back three-pointers from PJ Horne – with a Pitt layup in between – got the Tech lead back up to 10 points at 65-55 with 2:40 remaining. From there both teams ran out of gas offensively, and two free throws from Horne iced the game with 36 seconds remaining, and the Hokies went on to win 67-57.
Horne, who had been mired in a shooting slump, led Tech with 18 points. He was 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range. He got into foul trouble in the first half, and freshman center John Ojiako filled in admirably. Ojiako finished with four points and tied a career-high with nine rebounds in 14 minutes of action. Jalen Cone was the only other Hokie in double figures with 12 points.
“I want to play Ojiako more,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young said. “John should be a high school senior. It looks like I’m doing a bad job with his conditioning. John has to get bigger and stronger, and that comes with time. That’s not going to happen overnight. He’s played limited minutes. But he’s getting better and better. He’s going to be a really good player around here.”
Though he had another off-night shooting (3-of-15 overall, 0-of-6 from three-point range), Landers Nolley finished with a career-high 12 rebounds one game after setting his previous career-high with 11 rebounds against Boston College. He also had six assists, two steals and a block.
Pitt came into the game as one of the ACC’s worst shooting teams, and it showed. The Panthers were just 21-of-60 (35%) from the field, 5-of-21 (23.8%) from three-point range and 10-of-18 (55.6%) from the free throw line. They started off the game 3-of-4 from the outside, but made only two of their final 17 three-pointers.
Young was happy to have no mid-week game, because it gave the Hokies a chance to take a mental break.
“We’ve still got a lot to look forward to, a lot to work on. But with the time off, the opportunity to practice and work on Virginia Tech and our stuff… I thought offensively, our sharpness in the first half was as good as we’ve had in a while.”
Virginia Tech returns to action on Wednesday night when they host Miami. Tipoff is scheduled for 9pm, and the game will be televised by RSN. Check your local listings.
Game Notes from Virginia Tech
RECORDS AND NOTABLES
● Virginia Tech goes to 15-10 overall and 6-8 in ACC play.
● The Hokies snap a five-game losing streak and get their first win since its
double-overtime victory over North Carolina on Jan. 22.
● Mike Young notches his first win over Pitt and first win over Jeff Capel.
● This marks the fifth straight win over Pitt and third consecutive at Cassell Coliseum.
● Tech is now 11-4 at home on the season.
● Virginia Tech leads the all-time series 9-7 with the win today.
● UP NEXT: The Hokies will stay in Blacksburg for a contest with Miami (Fla.) on Feb.
19 at 9 p.m. ET at Cassell Coliseum.
● Virginia Tech started a lineup of Wabissa Bede, Tyrece Radford, Landers Nolley, P.J.
Horne, and Nahiem Alleyne, marking the 19th game this season that Tech has gone with
these five out of the gate.
● Tech dished out 21 assists marking the third-highest total of the season and the
most assists since its Jan. 18 win over Syracuse (22).
● The 25 points scored by the bench marks the 15th game this season the Hokies
bench has scored 20 or more points. It outscored Pitt 25-10.
● The Hokies 12 3-pointers are the most hit since their double-overtime win against
North Carolina (14) on Jan. 22 and the seventh-highest triple total this year.
● KEY FIRST HALF RUN: With just over eight minutes to go in the first half, junior P.J.
Horne and freshman Jalen Cone each drilled triples, extending the Hokies lead to 26-16.
With a little over four minutes to go redshirt freshman Landers Nolley finished a layup
followed by a slam dunk from forward John Ojiako bringing the score to 32-18. Tech
entered the break leading 32-23.
● KEY SECOND HALF RUN: Cone hit a 3-pointer with just over 16 minutes to go in the
second, followed by Nolley getting the layup pushing the Hokies lead to 46-28. With under
10 minutes in the game, Horne nailed a corner three, then Nolley hit a jumper extending
Tech’s advantage to 56-41. The Hokies would not look back and would go on to win 67-57.
● Horne records career-high 18 points and also hit a career-high four 3s, marking the
second time this season Horne has led Tech in scoring.
● Cone recorded his ninth double-figures outing with 12 points and also hit four
three-pointers or more for the fifth time this year.
● Ojiako grabbed nine boards, tying his career-high in rebounds. He had nine against
Gardner-Webb on Dec. 15, marking his new high in an ACC game.
Landers Nolley II
● Nolley registered his career high in rebounds with 12 and also dished out six assists,
which is his second-highest assist total this season.