Virginia Tech won a battle between teams looking to avoid an 0-3 start in Atlantic Coast Conference play, protecting its home court with an 81-67 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.
The Hokies dropped their first two games of the conference season at Syracuse and at home to arch rival Virginia, but managed to rebound at home against Pitt.
The Hokies (12-4, 1-2) held a 39-34 lead at halftime and built their lead to 11 points at 45-34 with 18:15 remaining in the game, but the Panthers roared back.
Pitt responded with a 17-6 run to tie the game at 51-51 with 12:37 remaining after a pair of free throws by junior guard Jared Wilson-Frame.
But it was all Virginia Tech after that.
The Hokies scored the next six points to take a 57-51 lead with 11:10 left, and then after Pitt cut its deficit to three points at 61-58 with 6:16 remaining, Virginia Tech answered with another 6-0 run to take a 67-58 lead with 5:34 remaining.
Leading 69-64 with 2:22 remaining, Virginia Tech put the game away with a 10-0 run to take a 79-64 lead with 58 seconds left.
Sophomore forward Kerry Blackshear, Jr. was the go-to player for the Hokies, scoring 31 points on 12 of 16 shooting from the field.
Freshman Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 16 points, junior guard Ahmed Hill scored 15 points and junior guard Justin Robinson had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Virginia Tech, which will next play at Wake Forest on Wednesday.
Wilson-Frame came off of the bench to score 20 points to lead Pitt, which fell to 8-8 overall and 0-3 in conference play following losses to Miami (Fla.) and Louisville.
The Panthers stayed in the game largely because of 3-point shooting, going 12 of 26 from 3-point range to 4 of 23 for Virginia Tech.
An 0-4 start for Pitt looks likely since the Panthers will next host No. 2 Duke on Wednesday.
—Field Level Media