Smith’s 3 lifts Virginia Tech over Pitt in OT
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — In the final seconds of Virginia Tech’s loss to second-ranked Virginia on Sunday, Adam Smith launched a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime.
The ball went halfway down before popping out, sending the Hokies to yet another close loss.
Against Pittsburgh, he made the most of a second chance.
Smith’s 3-pointer with four seconds left lifted the Hokies to a 70-67 overtime victory over the Panthers on Tuesday night.
Smith scored 26 points, hitting 9-of-17 from the field and tying a career high with six 3-pointers. Virginia Tech (9-11, 1-6 ACC) snapped a seven-game losing streak and a five-game losing streak to the Panthers.
The Hokies won for just the second time in seven attempts in games decided by three points or less. Two of those five losses were in conference games.
“It just feels so good to get our first ACC win, our first win of 2015,” Smith said. “It feels good to do it for Coach Buzz (Williams) and give him his first ACC win. It was a team win. When I wasn’t hitting, Malik (Müller) was hitting, Devin (Wilson) was going downhill and we played huge on defense, got some clutch stops. It was just a great team win.”
In overtime, the Panthers (13-8, 3-5 ACC), who lost their third straight, tied the game at 67 on Chris Jones’ putback with 1:08 to play. Virginia Tech called a timeout with 47 seconds left, and Müller missed a lay-up inside with 30 seconds to go. But the rebound went out of bounds off a Pittsburgh player, giving the Hokies another chance.
They held the ball before running a play that freed Smith for a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
“It was the same shot I took against Virginia,” Smith said. “I think I hit it twice at the end of regulation. So I felt comfortable knowing that I could hit that particular shot. We drew it up so that I would get it in the exact same spot. It was perfect.”
“Adam’s got the heart of a lion, and he’s not scared,” said first-year Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams, who was given the game ball by the players and his staff after the game. “That’s not to say anybody on our team is scared. We proved that, too.
“But to be in those positions at his size (6-foot-1), you have to have a little something extra burning in you - and I think he does. To be able to have shot the shot that he shot against Virginia, and then 52 hours later, to be able to shoot the shot to put it into overtime, and then shoot the shot to win it, your heart has to pump a lot of blood.”
Pittsburgh called a timeout after Smith’s 3-pointer and got a good look on its final possession, but James Robinson’s 3-pointer hit the front of the rim and bounced away at the buzzer.
The Hokies trailed 60-53 after Robinson scored with 2:11 remaining in regulation. But Virginia Tech went on a 6-0 run. Christian Beyer’s three-point play with 1:50 left cut the lead to four, and Smith’s 3-pointer with 52 seconds to go made it 60-59.
A Robinson jumper with 19 seconds to go gave the Panthers a 62-59 lead. But Smith hit a long 3-pointer with two seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime.
Müller added a career-high 22 points for the Hokies, who shot just 38.3 percent from the floor, but tied a season high with 12 3-pointers, of which Müller hit four.
“At the end of the day, they made big shots, and they made big plays,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. “The 12 3′s just wore on us.
“The ones they hit at the end of the game were tough shots, and shots that, in most cases, you want them taking. Give Smith credit and Müller credit. They made shots, and they made 3′s. It’s been a pattern for us. We’ve been getting beat at the 3-point line. We know it, and we need to get it fixed. This is a team (Virginia Tech) that needed those 12 3′s, and they got them.”
Jamel Artis paced the Panthers with 17 points, while Cameron Wright added 14 and Robinson finished with 12.
Virginia Tech played its fourth straight game without leading scorer Justin Bibbs (13.6 per game). Bibbs has been out with a concussion...Virginia Tech’s freshmen have played more than 50 percent of the team’s minutes this season, the highest percentage in the ACC.
Entering the Pittsburgh game, Virginia Tech had played four straight games against teams ranked in the top 20. No ACC team had done that since the 2001 NC State team.
Virginia Tech’s halftime lead, 29-24, against Pittsburgh marked its first in seven games.
Pittsburgh’s Michael Young had scored in double figures in 11 of the previous 12 games, but didn’t score his first point until the 17:00 mark of the second half and finished with six points.
Pittsburgh has won just one true road game this season, falling to 1-5 on the road. The Panthers an ACC-best 7-2 on the road last season.
Virginia Tech plays at Wake Forest on Saturday.
Pittsburgh hosts No. 8 Notre Dame on Saturday.