Pitt’s NCAA Tourney Hopes Fade With Overtime Loss At Virginia Tech


Going into Virginia Tech last night, the Pitt Panthers had suffered back to back losses to No. 5 Duke and No. 10 Louisville.

Both Top-10 teams shot very well against Pitt, especially from the three-point line.

The Hokies, who just lost by three points to No. 2 Virginia, were 0-6 in the ACC with a 7-game losing streak.

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For Pitt, this was essentially a must-win game for the Panthers to keep their NCAA Tourney hopes alive.  A loss to a bad Virginia Tech team would not help their resume.

Every time Pitt appeared to take control of the game, Virginia Tech would knock down some three-pointers to get back into the game.

The Hokies turned into Duke and Louisville last night, draining 12 three-pointers to knock off Pitt 70-67 in overtime.  Virginia Tech hit a last-second three pointer to send the game to overtime, and then the Hokies hit a last-second three pointer for the win.

It was very painful for Pitt fans, as this team often forgets to guard a dangerous three-point shooter.

New Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, who left Marquette, got his first win in the ACC over Pitt.

For Pitt (13-8, 3-5 ACC), sophomore forward Jamel Artis continued his hot shooting, scoring 17 points and hauling in 9 rebounds. Senior guard Cameron Wright added 14, and junior guard James Robinson scored 12. The Panthers shot a better 44% compared to 38% by the Hokies, but the three-point line was the difference.

For Virginia Tech (9-11, 1-6 ACC), junior guard Adam Smith came off the bench and scored 26 points, and freshman guard Malik Muller came off the bench and scored a career-high 22 points.

I can’t remember the last time two guys came off the bench and scored over 20 points against Pitt, as these two made 10 of 20 three point attempts.

Coach Dixon always says Pitt needs to rebound better, and the Panthers did have a 45-34 advantage.  Near the end of regulation when it mattered most, Pitt failed at rebounding a missed shot, and it led to a deep 27-foot three-pointer by Smith to send it to overtime.

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  • Smith’s shot was at the same spot against Virginia, in which he missed the game-tying attempt.

    Pitt also shot a miserable 9 of 17 from the free throw line, and that helped contribute to the upset.

    Pitt trailed 29-24 at halftime, as Muller hit a three-pointer at the end.

    Pitt responded with a 10-0 run to lead 34-29 early in the second half.

    An Artis dunk made it 58-51 Pitt with under three minutes remaining, and I thought Pitt had this one under control.

    Up 60-53 with under two minutes, Christian Beyer made a layup and was fouled to make it 60-56.  Wright missed a jumper, and Smith made a three-pointer to make it 60-59.

    Robinson made a jumper to give Pitt the 62-59 advantage with 20 seconds.

    Tied at 67, a missed Muller lay-up appeared to give Pitt the ball for a last-second shot, but referees awarded it to Virginia Tech.  To me, this was a terrible call, even though the referees reviewed it.

    Smith then drained the game-tying three pointer, and he would hit the winner in overtime.

    Virginia Tech played its fourth straight game without leading scorer Justin Bibbs, who was out with a concussion.

    Pitt has won just one true road game this season (1-5 on the road), and this will not impress anyone when reviewing NCAA Tourney resumes.  Last season, Pitt’s 7-2 ACC road record helped get them into the Big Dance.

    This game was an early dagger for Pitt, and we can only hope that the young players like Artis and Young continue to get better.  On a positive, Jamel Artis appears to be turning into a scorer for the Panthers.


    Pitt hosts No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday.

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