BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP)P.J. Horne scored a career-high 18 points to lift Virginia Tech to a 67-57 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Horne hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including a career-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies (15-10, 6-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), who snapped a five-game losing streak. Jalen Cone added 12 points and four 3-pointers for Virginia Tech, which hit 12 3-pointers in the game.
Au’Diese Toney and Justin Champignie scored 12 points each to lead the Panthers (15-11, 6-9), who lost for the fifth time in the past seven games.
Horne, who came into the game averaging 7.1 points per game, made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the final 3:30 to help the Hokies hold off the Panthers. Virginia Tech led by as many as 19 in the second half before Pittsburgh cut the lead to 59-53 on a layup by Abdoul Karim Coulibaly with 3:21 remaining.
Horne, though, hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:06 to go to push the Tech lead to 62-53, and after another Coulibaly layup with 2:51 remaining, Horne connected again, hitting a 3-pointer from the same spot to give the Hokies a 65-55 lead. Pittsburgh got no closer.
Xavier Johnson finished with 11 points for Pittsburgh, which shot just 35% (21 of 60) in losing its fifth straight road game.
Pittsburgh: Securing an NCAA Tournament berth is probably a bit much to ask of this young squad, but an NIT bid is certainly an attainable goal. However, the Panthers need to find a cure for their first-half woes, particularly on the road. Pittsburgh entered the game shooting 32.4% in the first half of its previous five road games (four losses) and continued the trend Saturday, shooting 26.9% in the first half in falling to the Hokies.
Virginia Tech: A week off certainly did wonders for the Hokies, who desperately needed a win after dropping five straight games. Like the Panthers, the Hokies probably aren’t going to make the NCAA field unless they can make some noise in a brutal upcoming stretch. Tech plays Miami on Wednesday, then takes on Duke (road), Virginia (home) and Louisville (road).
Pittsburgh: The Panthers play at Florida State on Tuesday.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies host Miami on Wednesday.