Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Former Big East Conference foes now meet as members of the ACC, as the Virginia Tech Hokies come calling on the 25th- ranked Pittsburgh Panthers.
Virginia Tech hasn't had the kind of season it envisioned at the outset, logging an 8-14 overall mark, which includes a dismal 1-9 mark in conference. The Hokies have lost nine straight, last tasting victory on New Year's Eve in an 82-66 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore. The team's most recent outing resulted in a 70-50 loss at Florida State on Wednesday, dropping it to 1-4 in true road games.
Pittsburgh had streaked out to an impressive 17-3 start, but then came a brief two-game slide in which it fell at home to both Duke and Virginia. The ship was righted a bit with a 59-55 overtime win at Miami earlier this week, sending the Panthers into this clash sporting a 19-4 overall record, and a 7-3 league ledger. Pitt is 12-2 at home this season.
Pittsburgh has won the last four meetings between these two clubs to take a 5-3 lead in the all-time series. The Hokies last visited the Steel City on Jan. 6, 2004, a game in which the Panthers won by the final score of 74-61.
Poor shooting coupled with a glaring lack of production at the free-throw line were the Hokies' downfall in their recent bout with Florida State, as the team hit only 34.4 percent of its total shots, while suffering a 21-3 deficit in points from the charity stripe. Cadarian Raines was the only VaTech player to score in double figures, netting 13 points in going 6-of-11 from the floor.
For the season, Virginia Tech is averaging only 66.8 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of 41.5 percent overall and 37.4 percent from 3-point range. The Hokies, who play decent defense all things considered (69.7 ppg, .409 FG percentage against), have three players tallying double figures, led by Jarell Eddie with his 13.9 ppg. Eddie is also the team's leading rebounder (5.6 rpg), while Devin Wilson (8.9 ppg, 4.4 apg) serves as its primary playmaker.
Pittsburgh is coming off a dreadful shooting performance of its own, as the team converted only 33.3 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a 4-of-14 showing from beyond the arc, but still the Panthers managed to slip by the Miami Hurricanes in overtime earlier in the week. Lamar Patterson scored a game-high 25 points, while Cameron Wright and Talib Zanna chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Wright came up one rebound shy of logging a double-double, the team as a whole losing the rebounding battle (43-37), but claiming a 19-14 edge in points from the foul line, while holding the 'Canes to 34.6 percent field goal efficiency, which included a 5-of-20 effort from distance.
Patterson (17.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.4 apg) head a list of three double-digit scorers for Pitt, while also producing in other areas, and Zanna (12.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 19 blocks) is the club's top rebounder and shot blocker. Wright (10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg) round out the offensive-minded trio, and the team is putting up 73.7 ppg in hitting 47.2 percent of its total shots, while at the same time permitting just 60.3 ppg, with foes connecting on only 40.3 percent of their field goal attempts. The Panthers also own favorable margins in both rebounding (+7.5) and turnovers (+2.1).