BLACKSBURG, Va. – During Virginia Tech’s recent skid, its fans and players had been searching for answers to help the Hokies solve some of their recent end-of-game issues, particularly after two close losses to Boston College and one to Florida State.
Coach Mike Young already knew the answer.
“There’s no pixie dust. There’s no magic formula to finishing,” he said following the Hokies’ win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. “Do the things you’ve done from the start — defend, rebound, get a quality shot each time down, and that’ll get you out of a lot of situations. I thought they did that.”
His team defended, held its own on the boards, and got a great evening from forward P.J. Horne, who scored a career-high 18 points to lift Virginia Tech to a 67-57 victory over the Panthers.
Horne hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including a career-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies (15-10, 6-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), who snapped a five-game losing streak. Jalen Cone added 12 points and four 3-pointers for Virginia Tech, which hit 12 3-pointers — its most since hitting 14 in a 79-77 double-overtime victory over North Carolina, which happened to be its last win before Saturday.
Au’Diese Toney and Justin Champignie scored 12 points each to lead the Panthers (15-11, 6-9), who lost for the fifth time in their past seven games.
Horne, who came into the game averaging 7.1 points per game, made two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the final 3:30 to help the Hokies hold off the Panthers. Virginia Tech led by as many as 19 in the second half before Pittsburgh cut the lead to 59-53 on a layup by Abdoul Karim Coulibaly with 3:21 remaining.
Horne, though, hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:06 to go to push the Tech lead to 62-53, and after another Coulibaly layup with 2:51 remaining, Horne connected again, hitting another 3-pointer from the exact same spot to give the Hokies a 65-55 lead. Pittsburgh got no closer.