In what was a close game throughout the majority, the Pittsburgh Panthers (8-8, 0-3 ACC) fell to the Virginia Tech Hokies (12-4, 1-2 ACC) by 14 points, 81-67.
The Hokies were led by a spectacular game from Kerry Blackshear Jr. who recorded 31 points, four rebounds and one assist. The Panthers finally got a more consistent shooting game out of Jared Wilson-Frame who recorded 20 points and four rebounds to lead Pitt.
For Panther fans, the game was an encouraging sign despite the outcome. The talent and fight was on display as they played a much more complete game shooting 22/48 (46 percent) from the field and from beyond the arc.
They got much better shooting out of Wilson-Frame who had been in large shooting funk the past four or five games now. Marcus Carr and Parker Stewart also had double digit points for the Panthers.
As for the Hokies, Blackshear Jr. had a very productive night as he almost couldn’t miss. The Hokies had four players in double digits.
While there was a glimmer of hope for the Panthers, they let an opportunity to grab a conference win slip away as a daunting schedule is on tap including a matchup Wednesday night against Duke at the Petersen Events Center.
Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams came to the defense of Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings despite all the heat he’s taken since the comments he made against Louisville and his lack of success at Pitt.
“This is my fourth time playing against Coach [Stallings] regardless of where I’ve been or where he’s been, he is a savant offensively,” Williams said. “When you watch his clips of when [Ryan] Luther played and when Luther didn’t play, it’s just a lot of stress on a very young team…it changes how we play them.”
While the fans of the Panthers may not like Stallings or believe he’s the guy for the team, Williams’ endorsement of Stallings is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
One: The Panthers have a solid piece in Parker Stewart. While everyone is high on Shamiel Stevenson and Marcus Carr as the team’s future, Stewart has proved to potentially be one of the most lethal three-point shooters in the ACC. The freshman trio is going to be a building foundation for the Panthers. While Stewart isn’t a complete enough player to garner 30+ minutes on the floor yet, he has that shot that can provide a spark off the bench for the Panthers and get them some much needed buckets.
Two: There is a fight to this team that shouldn’t go ignored. While a win over Virginia Tech would’ve went a long way in the Panthers confidence, especially without Ryan Luther, they can’t be disappointed with the effort despite the final score. They are a young team that seems to want to play for Stallings and it shows in their actions. They really don’t mail it in like a certain team did against Louisville last year.
Three: Things only get tougher from here. The Panthers will now move on to play No. 2 Duke on Wednesday and likely won’t be given much of an opportunity to win that game. After that, they’ll play Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Duke again all in a ten day span. There is a good chance the Panthers are 0-6 in ACC play in two weeks but maybe they will get one of those big upsets to really get some smiles going around the program.