Virginia Tech 70 Pittsburgh 67
The Hokies (9-11, 1-6 ACC) got an unexpected boost from redshirt freshman Malik Müller and Adam Smith’s clutch shooting gave Virginia Tech its first ACC win of the season 70-67 over Pittsburgh (13-8, 3-5 ACC).
Adam Smith led the Hokies with an extraordinary shooting exhibition, scoring a game-high 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting including 6-of-11 from behind the arc. The biggest one of those 3-pointers came at the end of overtime when Tech scrambled for a second chance bucket to take the lead.
Redshirt freshman Malik Müller scored a career-high 22 points off the bench to help spark the Tech offense. The Hokie bench outscored Pittsburgh’s 55-10 mostly thanks to Müller and Smith. Christian Beyer added seven points, five rebounds and a block.
Freshman Ahmed Hill also had another strong performance with 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Panthers were lead by Jamel Artis and his 17 points and nine rebounds. Cameron Wright had 14 points and what appeared to be a grossly dislocated pinky finger, while James Robinson added 12 points and Michael Young chipped in six points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The first half was largely even with both team’s struggling to find much offense. Tech would lead 29-25 at halftime which is an unusual occurrence this season.
This is the first halftime lead for the #Hokies since going up 45-32 on Presbyterian in December earlier this year.
— VT Men's Basketball (@VT_MBBall) January 28, 2015
After the break, both sides looked completely different. Pittsburgh opened with a 9-0 run thanks to Jamel Artis. He put up eight points in the first four minutes of the second half to spur the run, but Tech answered with five quick points of its own.
After some back and forth, the Panthers looked like they might run away with it, briefly opening up a seven-point lead before a Tech run closed the gap to make it 60-59 with 53 seconds remaining.
A nice jumper by James Robinson put Tech down 62-59 but with the last possession. It was the exact same scenario as the end of the Hokies’ three-point loss to No. 2 Virginia Sunday when Adam Smith’s 3-pointer to tie at the buzzer hit the front iron and missed.
This time, Tech once again worked the ball to Smith who hit a long three to tie and send the game into overtime where the Hokies would prevail thanks to more magic from Adam “The Invisible Hand” Smith.
Smith has stepped up considerably in the absence of leading-scorer Justin Bibbs who missed his fourth straight game recovering from a concussion. Bibbs won’t be cleared to play until his lingering post-concussion symptoms completely dissipate.
The Hokies return to action Saturday against Wake Forest at 2 p.m. while Pittsburgh returns home to face No. 8 Notre Dame at noon.
- The Panthers had won five straight games in the series including a 62-57 double overtime victory in Pittsburgh last year.
- The Hokies are now 3-1 against Pitt in home games. This marks the first conference win for Tech over Pittsburgh including big East and ACC play (1-4 all-time).
- Tech was once again outrebounded 45-34. Something new was the Hokies’ ability to get to the free throw line and convert. Tech made 70.6% (12-17) of its free throws while Pitt was 9-of-17 (52.9%). It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but a difference of three made free throws helped slide this game into the Hokies’ win column.