Horne's career night helps Virginia Tech men's hoops end skid

Posted at 12:09 AM, Feb 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-16 00:09:40-05

BLACKSBURG, Va. ( – P.J. Horne scored a career-high 18 points to lift Virginia Tech to a 67-57 ACC victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday night at Carilion Clinic Court.

With the victory, the Hokies snapped a five-game losing streak and moved to 15-10 overall, 6-8 in the ACC. Pittsburgh, which has lost five of its past seven games, fell to 15-11 overall, 6-9 in league play.

Horne hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including a career-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies. Jalen Cone added 12 points and four 3-pointers for 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.

Horne, who came into the game averaging just 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.

Au'Diese Toney and Justin Champignie scored 12 points each to lead the Panthers. Xavier Johnson finished with 11 points for Pittsburgh, which shot just 35% (21 of 60) in losing its fifth straight road game.

Virginia Tech, which had nine players to score, shot 43.9% and won despite an off night from leading scorer Landers Nolley II, who finished with seven points, but had 12 rebounds.

Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young
(On how he was able to get his team to finish this game)
"It's not an easy thing to work on. It's just being in those situations. Now, we have finished some games, and we've not finished some games. That's just relying on habits and relying on the things that got you to that point – defending, and we did that very well for the most part throughout the game. Rebounding, I thought if we got out-rebounded by 10, then we'd get clobbered. We out-rebounded them by two in the first half. A whopping two, and competed like crazy in that regard in the second half. There's no pixie dust. There's no magic formula to finishing. 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."

Virginia Tech forward P.J. Young
(On his two big 3-pointers down the stretch)
"It's just the flow of the game. I was open. Coach tells me never to turn down a good shot, so I just took the shots."

(On whether he expected to have a big game coming into the game)
"I didn't come in thinking I would have this type of night. I was just thinking we needed to win. We needed to find a way to win."

• Horne's previous career high of 16 came in his seventh collegiate game (Iowa, 2017).

• Nolley's 12 rebounds were a career high – he grabbed 11 in the Hokies' previous game against BC.

• For just the third time this season, Nolley failed to reach double figures in scoring.

• Cone has hit at least four 3-pointers in a game in five games this season and is shooting 53.4% (47 of 88) from beyond the arc.

• Tech has hit at least 10 3-pointers in 12 games this season.

Tech returns to the court Wednesday when it plays Miami at Carilion Clinic Court. The game is slated to tip at 9 p.m.