Entering Wednesday night, the Virginia Tech Hokies had a three-game winning streak and were looking to extend it to four which would also guarantee a .500 ACC record. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Panthers also brought a lot of momentum into this game after getting a big win over Duke at home.
However, the Hokies reigned supreme on this night.
Virginia Tech got its revenge with a 65-61 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers that guaranteed the Hokies a .500 ACC record and a winning season even if they lose their next two games plus a postseason opener. Pittsburgh led for much of the first half with Virginia Tech taking the lead just before halftime before the Hokies dominated most of the second half with a late run helping the Panthers get the lead from as much as 13 down to the final margin.
Virginia Tech did a great job of protecting the basketball with only 8 turnovers though Pittsburgh also protected the ball well on offense with only 9 turnovers. The Hokies were outrebounded 35-30, but only 8=6 in the offensive rebounding category which was a victory for a Virginia Tech that is one of the weaker teams on the glass in the conference.
Virginia Tech’s defense was quite impressive with the Hokies keeping Pittsburgh under 40% from the field and under 15% from beyond the arc in this game. The Hokies’ defense has stepped up since the blowout loss at Pittsburgh, and has helped put the Hokies in a better position to get to the NIT and possibly even put themselves on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Zach LeDay had one of his best games of the season with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in a performance that should make it hard for him to not receive at least some sort of All-ACC recognition. LeDay is not the most talented player on the roster, but he is one of the hardest-working players in the ACC, and it shows in his ability to become one of the league’s best forwards this season.
Seth Allen had 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists on what wasn’t a great shooting night for Allen but the junior point guard had quite a good game bringing some much-needed veteran experience down the stretch. Allen also made a lot of smart passes from the point even if that didn’t equal any assist while having only one turnover.
Justin Robinson was once again aggressive and had another productive night getting to the free-throw line and making 5-of-6 free throws on his way to a 10-point, 3-assist performance. Justin Bibbs did not have his best shooting night but made a couple of big threes and had 9 points and 4 rebounds while Devin Wilson played some good defense in what was a good game for the junior with 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Chris Clarke got to the free-throw line plenty of times, but only had 7 points on 5-of-10 free-throw shooting along with 3 rebounds. Meanwhile, Kerry Blackshear was fairly quiet statistically in his 19 minutes of game action with 2 points and 1 rebound while Jalen Hudson, Johnny Hamilton, and Shane Henry all played 6 or less minutes.
Buzz Williams has done a tremendous job coaching the Hokies in what has been an impressive rise for the Hokies in 2016. Virginia Tech basketball is on the rise and this win was the latest example of the rise of Williams and the Hokies back to relevance in the ACC.