Jan 27, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Adam Smith (3) is hugged by guard Will Johnston (25) after Smith made the game winning basket in overtime at Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Tech defeated Pittsburgh 70-67. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies are becoming heart-attack kids. Once again, the Hokies made fans sit on the edge of their collective seats to see if the Hokies could pull out a win.
On Sunday, the Hokies were on the verge of pulling a huge upset, and giving Buzz Williams his first signature win as the Hokies head coach. However, Adam Smith’s three point shot rimmed out keeping the Cavaliers undefeated on the season.
This time, Adam Smith’s shot was true not once, but twice. Smith hit a deep three at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, and he was money again to give the Hokies the win with 3.4 seconds left in the extra period.
Adam Smith was just a man the Panthers couldn’t seem to stop. Smith led the team with 26 points, and he, along with Malik Muller, were the offensive spark plugs the Hokies have been missing since Justin Bibbs has been out with a concussion.
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Muller had a career night tallying 22 points, and driving to the rim with reckless abandon. Muller’s driving to the basket combined with Smith’s 6 long range triples proved too much for Pittsburgh.
The Hokies seemed to use the close loss to UVA as motivation for this game, and will hopefully continue using it the rest of the season. In some way, the loss gave the team confidence that they could compete with any team on any night.
Compete is exactly what the Hokies did, using a series of runs during the first half to take a 29-24 lead into the locker room. In the first half, the teams seemed to be reversed as Tech was crashing the boards on the offensive end, while Pitt turned the ball over at an alarming rate.
The Hokie defense was the star in the first half, creating several run-outs which led to easy shots. The Hokies also seemed get Buzz Williams’s message about rebounding as they kept Pitt, who is the second best offensive rebounding team in the conference, at bay.
The second half was slightly different as the Panthers came out and hit the glass extremely hard. The Panthers finished the game with a plus-9 advantage on the glass. This was nowhere near the advantage they usually create, or the amount of rebounds the Hokies usually give up.
However, where Muller carried the team offensively in the first half, it was Smith’s time to pick up the scoring slack. Smith was a main reason why the Hokies stayed in the game. When the Hokies would tie the game or take a lead, the Panthers had an answer in the form of Jamel Artis and Cameron Wright. Artis finished with 17 points and Wright finished with 14.
Jan 27, 2015; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies forward Christian Beyer (22) reacts after a made basket against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second half at Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Tech defeated Pittsburgh 70-67. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Another bright spot was the play of Christian Beyer. Beyer, a former walk-on, played big minutes down the stretch. Beyer, along with Adam Smith, were the reasons the Hokies got the game to the extra session.
Beyer made all the little plays that don’t show up in the stat sheets. Beyer came up with several big rebounds, including the offensive rebound that led to the Smith three to send the game to overtime. Beyer is a product of Buzz Williams teaching hard work and having faith in players that buy into his system.
The Hokies not only picked up their first conference win tonight but snapped a 7-game losing streak. This is just the type of game that will give the Hokies a boost in right direction.
The Hokies take on the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest on Saturday. Hopefully, Justin Bibbs will return, and with Smith’s and Muller’s scoring punch, the Hokies will continue to climb in the right direction.
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