Pitt’s ugly win over Virginia Tech casts doubts, more Saturday afternoon hoops
No. 25 Pittsburgh 62, Virginia Tech 57: Coming into Saturday’s game against the Panthers, the Hokies had only beaten Pittsburgh once on the road. And this year didn’t appear to be the year to do it – the Hokies entered the day 1-9 in ACC play and just 8-14 overall – but a late 7-0 run gave VT a four-point lead with just over 33 seconds to play.
It really looked like it was going to happen. It didn’t.
James Robinson buried a three and was fouled (he hit the free throw) to tie it up at 48, which was the perfect storm of exactly what you don’t want to have happen if you’re the Hokies.
Pittsburgh was stuck on 48 until Robinson hit two free throws to tie it again, this time at 50 with just under two minutes to play in overtime. Lamar Patterson got his first points of the game a possession later to put the Panthers up 52-50. The Hokies got it back to 52 to send it to the second overtime, but Pitt controlled that period to put the game away.
On its own court, Pittsburgh should be able to handle teams like Virginia Tech easily. The Hokies haven’t won a game since the calendar turned to 2014, and they’re behind teams like Morgan State, Colgate and Florida Atlantic in the KenPom ratings.
So even though Pitt moved to 20-4 on the year, it’s not crazy to drop the Panthers out of the rankings, seeing as they haven’t been able to muster 50 points in regulation yet in the month of February.
Pittsburgh beats Virginia Tech in double OT. I rarely drop teams after wins, but this is deserving of an exception.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) February 8, 2014
With Syracuse, North Carolina and Florida State in their next three, things better get better quickly on offense for the Panthers.
Kansas State 74, No. 15 Texas 57: A letdown game was bound to happen sooner or later for the Longhorns. Texas came in having won seven straight, including an 81-69 win over Kansas on Feb. 1. But to get blown out that badly at home may have shown the college basketball world to pump the breaks on just how good the Longhorns really are.
Yes, the winning streak was impressive. Yes, this is Rick Barnes’ best coaching job in recent memory. Yes, Texas might actually have a shot to get to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2008. But there’s a long way to go and quite a few tough games left on that schedule.
Marcus Foster led the way for the Wildcats, scoring 34 points on 13-of-16 shooting.
No. 3 Florida 78, Alabama 69: Florida struggled for a big stretch of the first half in its game against Alabama on Saturday, but a few timely made shots and an overwhelming calm by the Gators encapsulated just why Billly Donovan’s team cannot be ignored as a championship threat down the stretch.
Trevor Releford had 25 points (4-of-6 from three), as the pesky Tide wouldn’t go away. But ultimately Alabama’s long losing streak to Florida continued (the Gators haven’t lost to the Crimson Tide since Mar. 13, 2008), as doubts about Anthony Grant’s job security continue to grow.
No. 20 Virginia 64, Georgia Tech 45: It wasn’t pretty (few Virginia games are), but the Cavaliers became the first team to get to 10 ACC wins in the 2014 season. Virginia trailed at the break and Malcolm Brogdon shot just 3-of-12 from the floor, but a strong second-half run and a 46-25 rebounding advantage were the difference against the shorthanded Yellow Jackets. Virginia has a short turnaround and heads home to play Maryland on Feb. 10.
No. 18 Kentucky 69, Mississippi State 59: Good defense and balanced scoring led to another win for the Wildcats. While it’s probably not true that no team is more overanalyzed in the history of sports than Kentucky, as John Calipari suggested earlier this week, it is safe to say we expect a lot out of the Wildcats and their super youngsters game in and game out. This team isn’t blowing out a bunch of people. It’s not seeing guys averaging 20 points a game. But it is coming together as a cohesive unit, and that isn’t a bad energy to have. Calipari still has plenty of criticisms of his team, though.
Calipari: “I’m coaching 18 and 19 year olds. All their life they’ve been told they poop ice cream”
— Lane Fobbs (@Lane_Fobbs) February 8, 2014
The Wildcats are still missing that one consistent threat, but there are a lot of sources of offense between Julius Randle (16 points, seven rebounds), the Harrisons, James Young and Willie Cauley-Stein. Calipari might have to coach his team a bit more closely than he usually does rather than letting them overpower everybody, and that could lead to a bit more scrutiny, but it could also pay dividends down the road.