PITTSBURGH, Pa. (AP) — Xavier Johnson scored a career-high 32 points and Pittsburgh beat No. 16 Virginia Tech 83-72 on Wednesday night to end a three-game skid.
Johnson had been slumping, scoring a total of 26 points in the three losses, and was held out of Pitt’s starting lineup for the first time this season and second time in his three-year career. He shot 11 of 17 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range, as the Panthers (9-5, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had their way against a usually stingy Virginia Tech defense.
Pittsburgh beat a ranked opponent for the first time since January 2019.
Keve Aluma scored 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 4 of 6 from long range, for the Hokies (13-4, 7-3), who were coming off a win over then-No. 8 Virginia. Justyn Mutts added 17 points.
Panthers leading scorer Justin Champagnie had 13 rebounds and 10 points, his eighth double-double. Ithiel Horton, who also came off the bench for the first time this season, scored 15 points.
Virginia Tech led by as many as six points in the second half and trailed by two with 7:30 remaining before Pitt pulled away with a 13-0 run.
Virginia Tech: Second-year Hokies coach Mike Young has built his program with a defense-first mentality, but the Hokies had an uncharacteristically tough time with Johnson and Pitt. Virginia Tech entered No. 41 in points per game allowed, but Pitt shot 50% from the field and 57.7% in the second half.
Pitt: Stopping a three-game slide is important for any team, but especially for the Panthers, who have had skids of five games or more in the second halves of four straight seasons.
Pitt had been scheduled to host No. 20 Florida State on Saturday, but after a positive COVID-19 test in the Seminoles program, will instead visit No. 14 Virginia. The Panthers have not won in three trips to John Paul Jones Arena.
Virginia Tech visits Miami on Saturday. The Hokies are 3-2 in true road games this season and have not lost back-to-back games.