After another impressive win on Saturday against then-No. 8 Virginia, the No. 16 Virginia Tech Hokies, were due for a letdown.
That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday night in the Steel City when the Pitt Panthers down the Hokies, 83-72.
After a back-and-forth first half, the second half continued to follow the same theme, with the teams trading buckets for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
However, things changed around the eight-minute mark when Pitt got hot, going on a 13-0 run to blow open a close game. During that run, the Hokies went over three minutes without a score, and the Panthers had opened up a 15-point lead with around four minutes remaining.
That run proved to be the difference in the game as Pitt pulled away to pick up a much-needed ACC win to improve to 9-5 and 5-4 in ACC play.
Junior guard Xavier Johnson had a career day for Pittsburgh, scoring a career-high 32 points after coming off the bench for only the second time in his career. Johnson had been in a slump in the previous few games.
Johnson also dished out seven assists and pulled down five rebounds.
It was Virginia Tech’s third game without guard Tyrece Radford and the Hokies’ first loss in that period. There could be some good news coming regarding Radford, which we will look into later on Thursday.
Junior forward Keve Aluma was outstanding again, scoring 30 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Unfortunately for Aluma, he had little help outside of Justyn Mutts, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds.
Sophomore guard Hunter Cattoor did give Virginia Tech 12 points, and he continues to be the team’s most consistent wing player during Radford’s absence. Jalen Cone and Nyhiem Alleyne both struggled, combining to score 13 points and on just four of 17 shooting from the field.
The Hokies desperately need Alleyne and Cone to get going. Cone has had a tough stretch in the last few games.
The loss drops the Hokies to 13-4 on the season, with a 7-3 mark in ACC play.
Virginia Tech is back on the court Saturday with a trip to Miami.