Blackshear Kerry's Hokies to 81-67 Victory over Pitt

The Hokies used a career performance by Kerry Blackshear Jr. to pick up their first conference win of the 2017-18 campaign.

[Mark Umansky]

In a game where Virginia Tech couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from three (4-23), the Hokies turned to their lone bigman. Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored a career-high 31 points, leading Buzzketball to a 81-67 victory over Pittsburgh. Tech improved to 12-4 (1-2) on the season.

Blackshear Jr. was the lone bright spot offensively, as the Hokies exploited the only matchup in conference where Tech will have a height advantage.

"He [Blackshear] did a great job of positioning himself. It wasn't a good defensive effort on the post," said Pittsburgh head coach Kevin Stallings. "We just didn't have an answer."

Blackshear's dominance in the post allowed for other Hokies to rack up assists. Led by point guard Justin Robinson, Tech tallied 20 assists. Robison dished out 10 by himself, which alongside 11 points allowed him to secure his first career double-double.

"Because of how we play if we don't turn the ball over, odds are ... there's a great chance for an assist," said Buzz Williams.

Not surprisingly, Williams knew exactly what he was talking about when talking numbers. The Hokies only gave the ball away once in the first half, en route to a final turnover tally of just six. That's the first time since December 10 that Tech hasn't had 12+ turnovers in a game.

The Hokies continued their cold streak from three-point range, shooting an abysmal 4 for 23 (17%). While it's concerning to onlookers that Tech has shot 16 for 65 (24.6%) from deep in conference play, Williams doesn't believe it's time to panic yet.

"We haven't shot it well this week, for sure. We shot 78% from the field if you take away the threes," noted Williams. "I thought all the threes we shot were threes that we typically shoot. We probably needed a game like this where they had to learn we have to figure out a way how to win other than shoot a bunch of threes and make them."

This game could've been much closer or much uglier. Pittsburgh finished with 17 turnovers, leading to 22 points for Tech. However, the Panthers also shot 46% (12 for 26) from three, well above their season average of 33%. Those two contrasting extremes seemingly cancelled out as Tech beat Pitt by the same margin as No. 15 Miami.

The Hokies began conference play with a pair of losses at the hands of Syracuse and Virginia. Back-to-back L's created a must-win scenario for the Hokies on Saturday afternoon. Williams and has cultivated a basketball culture in Blacksburg that expects a NCAA tournament berth each season.

"I think we've created an expectation level here at a very rapid rate," said Williams after the game. "Which is good, but it also isn't necessarily stable."

"I think all of this is fragile. There's 70 days until the end of the year, until the end of the ACC Tournament," explained Williams. "If you win at home and if you lose on the road ... those are 'zeros' and if you win on the road it's 'plus one' and if you lose at home it's 'minus one'. If you get to 'plus one' in this league, you're for sure an NCAA tournament team."

Right now, the Hokies are at "minus-one" following their disappointing loss to Virginia. However, they have a chance to get back to even as they take on Wake Forest in Winston-Salem.

Comments

The 3 point shooting is even more scary when you consider Blackshear went 2 of 3 from outside while the rest of the team went 2 for 20. The Hokies have to be able to get inside more until those shots start falling again.

Any theories on the cause of the cold snap across everyone not playing "Center"?

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

Based on the cold stint, I think its more mental than anything else. They just seem to lack confidence in quite a few aspects of the game. I also don't think the playing environment has helped, considering other than the second half against Kentucky, the cold streak has coincided with the holidays. This team definitely feeds off energy. I would point to the end of the game against Pitt when they managed the run that closed out the game. That was only the second time in many games that you could audibly hear the crowd through the television.

They have been getting clean looks with their feet set, and only one game did I notice what I would call short-arming the shot, where their shooting motions seemed disjointed (the Syracuse game) but it doesn't take much for a shooter to be off from outside.

Thanks for the writeup Skutt. Hopefully we can right the shooting ship this week because Wake and Louisville are two very winnable games before tough contests against FSU and UNC. Gotta at least go 2-2 over the next 4, hopefully 3-1.

Only 6 turnovers is good but they still had like 6 or 7 should have been turnovers. There was some really sloppy passes going on where the ball just happened to bounce back our way. I was begging Buzz to rip off that vest and scream at them if I saw one more crosscourt pass thru 4 defenders or a guy dribbling across the paint with no plan, leaving his feet, and desperately throwing the ball in the general area of a teammate. The lack of discipline in this team this season is very surprising to me

Great article Skutt. Excellent punsmanship

Another bright spot was that NAW was playing a lot more physical. He was driving to contact and then finishing.

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I never met a project that couldn't justify a new tool.

Yea fuck yea yea! SHEAR IT

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Missing the 3's, is that an indication of fatigue? Buzz also seems to be less animated on the sideline.....hmmmmm. Just some observations.

This is a theory I apply to my NCAA bracket each year, that teams that rely on jump shooting tend to suffer more from fatigue that teams that can drive the lane or work through a big. Seemed to even bite the Warriors two seasons ago after the 7 game series with the Thunder, their shot stopped falling down the stretch against the Cavs. I would hope fatigue is not biting this team already, but if it is, do you think the Buzz bootcamp is contributing to it or helping prevent it. I would think the bootcamp occurs early enough before the season that the players would be fully recovered.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

Seems way too early for fatigue to denigrate the performance of conditioned, young athletes not even halfway through the season. Certainly, Buzz's bootcamp should have had the effect of preparing the kids for the rigors of the season, not the opposite. There seems to me to be some sort of a mental thing going on, and Buzz's demeanor only reinforces that to me. He seems to be using caution in "handling" them rather than ranting and raving when they aren't performing well, and trying every conceivable combination of players searching for the sweet spot they seem to have trouble finding after all of those prolific OOC games. Having never played one second of organized basketball, I can only rely on feelings and impressions, though. I keep coming back to the point made numerous times in our basketball threads that we seem to really be missing the leadership and "take charge" grit that LeDay and Allen provided us last year. That guy just doesn't seem to exist on this team.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I don't think I'm being dramatic when I say that was basically a must win game. Starting 0-3 in conference play would have been a very tough mental hill to climb I think for the team.

Damn 78% from 2-point FGs is incredible

How long have you been waiting to use that title?

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

I think a big part of our problem from downtown is that most of our shooters need time to set their feet to be comfortable. In the ACC, you don't get much time to get the shot off; so they are rushing. We really miss Ty Outlaw; he has a quicker shot.

Doesn't matter if it's cake or pie as long as it's chocolate.

Great effort from KB. I always thought he would have been a crucial piece to VT's team last year. With him on it, they perhaps have a chance at a sweet 16 run, which would have been a windfall for Hokie basketball.

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