Five Takeaways: Virginia Tech Sticks to Pitt Outside, Frustrating Panthers in Loss
BLACKSBURG, Va. — Pitt had knocked down at least ten threes in each of its last three wins, which were a part of its six-game winning streak.
Sitting in first place in the ACC heading into Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech, the Panthers had looked to the three-ball all year long for offensive dominance, knowing that they could compete with just about anyone if they shot the ball to their potential.
Pitt struggled to find good looks on the outside, hitting a season-low three three-pointers all game.
Virginia Tech was glued to the Panthers’ sharpshooters, not letting Hinson, Elliott, or Cummings get a clean look from deep.
“I think they made a concerted effort to guard the three-point line,” Capel added. “They didn’t switch things, and they were sticking with our shooters more, not helping. That’s why we were able to get some things, as far as rolls to the basket, and more drives all the way to the basket.
As Capel mentioned, Virginia Tech’s aggressive outside defense did allow for Pitt to get to the basket. Federiko had 12 points in the loss, rolling to the basket off of screens and receiving dimes from Cummings (8 assists) throughout the game.
FOULS, FOULS, FOULS
Throughout the game, Pitt struggled to keep its best five on the court due to foul trouble involving Federiko Federiko, Nelly Cummings, and Blake Hinson.
Federiko only had one foul in the first half, However, just two minutes into the second, as Pitt was trying to come back, the Finnish big man picked up his second, third, and fourth fouls of the game in a 23-second span.
Fast forward a few minutes, and Hinson and Cummings had each picked up their fourth before the clock even showed 11 minutes remaining.
“Foul trouble always hurts the rhythm, because certain lineups we haven’t played with, we had to play with today,” Cummings said.
In total, Pitt fouled the Hokies 24 times, which ranks second on the year in most fouls in a single game for the Panthers. Elliott also had four fouls, joining Cummings and Federiko. Hinson fouled out, earning his fifth foul just seconds after checking back in on a charging foul.
“Hey man, you know I can’t comment on that,” Capel said about the foul-calling. “These guys have a hard job, a difficult job. Both teams played really really hard and competed, it is what it is.”
VIRGINIA TECH CAME READY
In front of a rowdy environment, Virginia Tech took home a huge conference win over the Panthers, sending Pitt out of first place in the ACC.
“Congrats to Virginia Tech,” Jeff Capel said. “Heck of a college basketball environment, the Cassell was rocking today. They did an outstanding job. They shot the heck out of it, they executed the heck out of it, they did a good job of taking us off the three-point line, being there on the catch. They were more physical live in person than I’ve seen them on tape all year. You can tell that Mike had them ready.”
The Hokies looked to their stars for production all night long. Wright State transfer Grant Basile led the way with 22 points on an efficient 8-for-13 shooting, including 4 for 8 from three-point land.
𝙂𝙐𝙏 𝘾𝙃𝙀𝘾𝙆 💪 pic.twitter.com/OdMO7KOOgJ
— Virginia Tech Men's Basketball (@HokiesMBB) February 19, 2023
Guard Sean Pedulla put together a tremendous performance from the point, dishing out five assists, grabbing six rebounds, and scoring 12. In addition, Mylyjael Poteat had 15 and Hunter Cattoor and Justyn Mutts had 12 apiece.
“They’re good, they’re a really good offensive basketball team,” Capel said about the Hokies. “They have a lot fo guys that can shoot. They have four guys out there that can shoot threes, and then Mutts is such a unique player. With their movement, they had us chasing all afternoon, all evening. We didn’t do as good of a job communicating at times, but man, all the credit goes to them, they really did a heck of a job executing their stuff.”
BENCH STEPS UP AS MUCH AS IT CAN
Aside from Nike Sibande, Pitt’s bench is very young, and battled despite the tough atmosphere and circumstances against the Hokies.
Guillermo Diaz-Graham had a great night, scoring eight points, grabbing six boards, blocking two shots, and earning two steals. His brother Jorge added three points, hitting a key three during the second half while Pitt’s starters were sidelined due to their fouls.
“I think we did what we had to do,” Cummings said about the team’s communication. “We communicated on the court, they ran some good stuff, they got some good shots, and hats off to them, they played well.”
Those twins are battling. Severely undersized. But they've been so tough
— George Michalowski (@MichalowskiCBB) February 18, 2023
PANTHERS STREAK ENDS WITH FOUR TO GO
Pitt’s six-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday, as Virginia Tech won its sixth game of the season in conference play.
The Hokies were ranked as the No. 66 team in the country according to the NET rankings, making this a Quad One loss for Pitt.
Pitt’s Quad One record is now 5-3, putting it in solid position heading into its last four games, as only one of which is a Quad One opportunity.
Virginia tech played the same defense as duke did in the 2nd half. No help responsibilities for the guys guarding shooters and whoever guarded Fede was sagged down low. Fede has been great, but Pitt needs a big guy that can post up against this defense. Hughley would be great because not only can he score with his back to the basket, but he can pass to open cutters as well. In my opinion, if teams play this defense, I would post up Hinson and burton much more.
Hinson is not a great or even very good inside type player. He’s a perimeter shooter.
Only guy that gets inside for Pitt is Burton….and on occasion, Sibande.
Other than Burton, the other 3 of the Big 4…were all mostly watching with fouls
yesterday. So not much you can do if the refs take your best players out of the game and deposit them on the bench.
My opinion, Hughley would disrupt the offensive chemistry of this team. He’s one dimensional, prefers not to play defense and is eternally slow getting back. Teams in the ACC prefer games being called one way and if the ref team is on a different page well then they struggle. We struggled. Tuesday traveling was called more than the total I’ve seen all year. Players were dumbfounded.
Maybe we’ll see VT in the tourney.
Pitt’s Achille’s heel is depth and when you have Cummings, Hinson & Federeko all on the bench for the majority of the 2nd half. And then add Elliot who also had 4 fouls, just too much to overcome. Many of which were ‘touch fouls’. Very hard to beat both the opposition & the refs. Which if Pitt gets the same type of crew in both the ACC or the NCAA tourney it could be a quick exit.
Something just doesn’t seem right. PITT can beat the good teams but end up loosing to to the bottom dwellers of the league. The bookies, wonder if they have anything to do with this?
See above. Refs.