|1:30 PM PT2:30 PM MT3:30 PM CT4:30 PM ET9:30 PM GMT5:30 PM 北京时间2:30 PM MST4:30 PM EST, Feb 16, 2019
Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 10,289
No. 22 Virginia Tech not overlooking Pitt
His team may be going against an opponent that has dropped its last eight games, but Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams called the No. 22 Hokies' Saturday afternoon clash with the Panthers in Pittsburgh "as big a game that we've had since we've lived here."
Williams gave that assessment in a post-game radio interview following the Hokies' 76-68 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday in what was likely their best all-around performance since losing senior guard Justin Robinson to a foot injury last month.
Virginia Tech (19-5, 8-4 ACC) shot 47.2 percent from the field overall, went 13 of 30 (43.3 percent) on 3-pointers and had 20 assists on 25 made baskets against Georgia Tech's zone defense.
It's now important to back that up with a similar effort against the struggling Panthers (12-13, 2-10).
"To an extent with each passing day, I think we're figuring out the specific recipe to what gives us a chance," Williams said. "It's so specific that when the ingredients or the directions for the recipe are not followed to the recipe exactly, the wheels are going to fall off."
"Wheels falling off" is a pretty good way to describe what happened to the Hokies when Robinson, their all-time career assist leader and the team's No. 2 scorer (14.4 points per game), was hurt in their win at Miami on Jan. 30.
Despite a season-low scoring effort, they won their first game in Robinson's absence with a 47-24 victory over North Carolina State, but lost their next two outings at home to Louisville (their first home setback this season) and at Clemson.
In those three losses, Virginia Tech shot an atypical 35.7 percent from the field, including a season-low 28.3 against Clemson. The performance against the Yellow Jackets was more like how the Hokies had played when they rose to No. 9 in the rankings after a 14-1 start.
"We played more like us," Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear told the Roanoke Times. "Penetrate. If you got it, get yours. If you don't have it, find the other man."
Ty Outlaw scored a season-high 20 points against the Jackets and, just as important, showed the kind of leadership the Hokies will need down the stretch with games against Virginia and Duke among the last five outings after the visit to Pittsburgh.
"He's smart enough, he's aware enough to understand what's at stake," Williams said of the graduate transfer guard.
Sophomore guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (team-high 17.3 points per game) scored 16 against Georgia Tech.
First-year Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel III is looking for someone to step up among his Panthers, who notched wins over Louisville and then-No. 11 Florida State in early conference play before hitting the skids.
"There just has to be ownership," Capel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "There has to be a voice within the group. There has to be a voice within the team. When you have a good program, then it becomes a collective voice. It's not just one person."
Youth is an issue. A pair of freshman guards, Xavier Johnson (16.6 points per game) and Trey McGowens (12.2) lead the Panthers in scoring, with senior guard/forward Jared Wilson-Frame next at 12. A third freshman guard, Au'Diese Toney (8.3), is the team's No. 4 scorer and leading rebounder (5.8).
Despite the losses piling up, Pitt has remained competitive. None of the eight losses have been by more than 15 points, and two of the last three were decided by five combined points, including a two-point overtime loss to Wake Forest.
Saturday will be the Panthers' only meeting with the Hokies this year.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 14, 2019