It looked like the Virginia Tech Hokies would roll on Saturday night over Pittsburgh. The Hokies started the game red-hot from the field, leading 49-22 at halftime. Tech shot a ridiculous 10 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half.
It felt like the Hokies were would easily win their third straight game, but the Panthers weren’t quite finished, making 14 of their first 19 second-half shots to close VT’s lead to 60-54 with just under eight minutes remaining.
Fortunately, Tech would hold off the surging Panthers to leave the Steel City with a 76-71 victory. The two teams meet again Monday night in Blacksburg. Remember, an earlier meeting between the two schools was rescheduled due to a COVID pause in Virginia Tech’s program.
When Pitt closed Tech’s lead to six points, Storm Murphy drilled a 3-pointer and Justyn Mutts made a layup to push VT’s lead back up to 11. Pittsburgh wouldn’t go away. Over the next several minutes, the Hokies maintained a solid lead, that was at 10 points with 46 seconds remaining.
The Panthers would make back-to-back 3-point baskets to cut the lead to four points. Then, the Hokies struggled at the free-throw line. Murphy missed the second of his two free throws, followed by Nahiem Alleyne and Hunter Cattoor each missing the front end of a one-and-one.
In the end, time ran out on Pittsburgh, or it could’ve been an all-time embarrassing loss.
Murphy led the Hokies with 20 points, Mutts scored 16 and Alleyne finished with 14. The Hokies made 14 of 26 from beyond the arc. However, Tech allowed Pitt to shoot almost 57% from the floor, which is not acceptable to win in the ACC.
The Hokies can’t afford to lose to Pittsburgh Monday in Blacksburg. A sweep, which will be difficult to beat the same time twice in three days, would give Virginia Tech four consecutive wins and move them to 6-7 in ACC play.
The Hokies still have a respectable NET ranking, so it’s important to keep stacking up wins, even though most are not overly impressive.