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Blackshear's 29 power No. 22 Virginia Tech by Pitt 70-64

PITTSBURGH (AP) Kerry Blackshear Jr. was mid-answer when the sight of a couple of Virginia Tech teammates recording his postgame interview with phone in hand became a bit too intrusive.

''I'm panicking, boy,'' Blackshear said. ''You've got to get that off me.''

It was the first time all day the junior forward looked rattled. Blackshear poured in a season-high 29 points during a near flawless performance to lead the 22nd-ranked Hokies to a 70-64 victory over slumping Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Blackshear overwhelmed the undersized Panthers. He made 8 of 9 shots from the field, including all three of his 3-point attempts, and went 10 of 11 from the free throw line in addition to grabbing nine rebounds as Virginia Tech (20-5, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) reached the 20-win mark for the fourth consecutive season.

The last three wins have come despite missing senior point guard Justin Robinson, who remains out indefinitely with a toe injury. After an initial wobble - the Hokies lost two of their first three without Robinson - they have found their footing behind Blackshear.

''We have to play through him,'' Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. ''He's our best defender. He's our best scorer. He's our best passer. He's our best playmaker and he has the best basketball IQ on our team.''

The Hokies relied on it when necessary against the Panthers. Blackshear scored a career-high 31 on 12-of-16 shooting last year against Pitt and was even more efficient this time around. Jumpers. Putbacks. Layups. Dunks. He was dominant from nearly start to finish no matter who the undersized Panthers put on him.

''I think they did a really good job of throwing different looks,'' Blackshear said. ''A couple of times I was like, `Oh wow.' I didn't know who was guarding me. They did a really good job of monstering, double-teaming the post but I found whoever was open.''

Though Pitt (12-14, 2-11) kept scrapping - at one point 6-3, 185-pound freshman Trey McGowens threw Blackshear to the floor as the two battled for a loose ball - the Panthers dropped their ninth straight.

Xavier Johnson led Pitt with 18 points. Sidy N'Dir chipped in 12 points and six rebounds but every time the Panthers appeared ready to make a push, the Hokies responded. When Johnson's 3-pointer drew the Panthers within 48-46 with 7:28 to go in the second half, Virginia Tech knocked down three straight 3s of its own -including one by Blackshear to extend the advantage to 59-47.

''It's an example of a veteran team, a team that's been together and had some experience, that's used to winning, to step up and make plays when we had momentum,'' first-year Pitt coach Jeff Capel said.

Pitt eventually cut it to 63-56 on a pair of free throws by Johnson with 1:58 remaining and created a turnover in the backcourt when N'Dir stepped in front of a pass. Panther guard Kham Davis drove to the basket for a layup but the bucket was waved off when officials called Davis for a charge.

Blackshear immediately converted two free throws at the other end to make it 65-56 and Virginia Tech did just enough down the stretch to win its fourth consecutive meeting with Pitt.

CAVALIERS AWAIT

The Hokies' poise down the stretch allows them to briefly exhale before a visit by fourth-ranked Virginia on Monday. The Cavaliers rolled in an 81-59 victory on Jan. 15. The Hokies know they need to be better in all phases this time around.

''Got to keep our poise,'' Blackshear said. ''I think they score just as good as anybody in the country. Defend just as good as anybody in the country. It's going to be a big game. Cassell is going to be rocking. We look forward to it.''

STAYING UPBEAT

A year after going winless in the ACC, Pitt's initially promising 2-2 start in the conference under Capel has faded though he remains impressed by his team's effort.

''I understand how hard this is going to be and it's not a quick fix,'' Capel said. ''We won a couple of games early and it changed some expectations for all of us. I think I've had a pretty good perspective on this. It's hard. It's really hard. It's frustrating. We want to be better, but we're getting better.''

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies seem to have overcome the offensive issues that plagued them as they tried to deal with the absence of their second-leading scorer in Robinson. Virginia Tech shot 51 percent (21 of 41) from the floor and 10 of 21 from 3-point range after shooting 48 percent in a win over Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

Pitt: The problem for the Panthers is in some ways a matter of mere physics. The Panthers lack the size to create any sort of offensive threat inside, allowing teams to play zone and force them to chuck it from deep. Defensively there's little they can do against a legitimate post presence like Blackshear.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies fell behind by 22 in the first half in the initial meeting with the Cavaliers and never recovered.

Pitt: Visits Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

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This story has been corrected to show that Blackshear's first name is Kerry.

Copyright 2019 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
Min. Per Game
Pts. Per Game
Ast. Per Game
Reb. Per Game
Field Goal %
Three Point %
Free Throw %
  Xavier Johnson missed 3-pt. jump shot 5.0
+ 1 Nickeil Alexander-Walker made 2nd of 2 free throws 10.0
+ 1 Nickeil Alexander-Walker made 1st of 2 free throws 10.0
  Personal foul on Sidy N'Dir 10.0
+ 2 Xavier Johnson made driving layup 12.0
+ 1 Nickeil Alexander-Walker made 2nd of 2 free throws 18.0
  Nickeil Alexander-Walker missed 1st of 2 free throws 18.0
  Personal foul on Jared Wilson-Frame 18.0
  Defensive rebound by Ty Outlaw 30.0
  Sidy N'Dir missed 3-pt. jump shot, blocked by Wabissa Bede 22.0
  Bad pass turnover on Kerry Blackshear Jr., stolen by Sidy N'Dir 32.0
Team Stats
Points 70 64
Field Goals 21-41 (51.2%) 20-43 (46.5%)
3-Pointers 10-21 (47.6%) 6-22 (27.3%)
Free Throws 18-26 (69.2%) 18-27 (66.7%)
Total Rebounds 27 24
Offensive 6 6
Defensive 21 16
Team 0 2
Assists 14 11
Steals 6 7
Blocks 1 2
Turnovers 14 15
Fouls 24 22
Technicals 0 0
29 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST
18 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST
12T
away team logo 22 Virginia Tech 20-5 313970
home team logo Pittsburgh 12-14 263864
Team Stats
away team logo 22 Virginia Tech 20-5 74.0 PPG 35.6 RPG 15.3 APG
home team logo Pittsburgh 12-14 69.9 PPG 40.2 RPG 11.7 APG
Key Players
24
K. Blackshear Jr. F 14.7 PPG 7.4 RPG 2.3 APG 52.5 FG%
1
X. Johnson G 15.5 PPG 3.9 RPG 4.5 APG 41.5 FG%
Top Scorers
K. Blackshear Jr. F 29 PTS 9 REB 3 AST
X. Johnson G 18 PTS 3 REB 5 AST
51.2 FG% 46.5
47.6 3PT FG% 27.3
69.2 FT% 66.7
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
K. Blackshear Jr. 29 9 3 8/9 3/3 10/11 4 39 0 0 3 6 3
A. Hill 14 4 0 4/11 2/6 4/5 4 33 1 0 3 0 4
N. Alexander-Walker 9 1 3 2/5 1/2 4/8 4 17 1 0 3 0 1
T. Outlaw 7 9 0 3/6 1/3 0/0 2 37 1 0 1 0 9
W. Bede 2 1 7 1/4 0/2 0/2 3 33 2 1 3 0 1
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
K. Blackshear Jr. 29 9 3 8/9 3/3 10/11 4 39 0 0 3 6 3
A. Hill 14 4 0 4/11 2/6 4/5 4 33 1 0 3 0 4
N. Alexander-Walker 9 1 3 2/5 1/2 4/8 4 17 1 0 3 0 1
T. Outlaw 7 9 0 3/6 1/3 0/0 2 37 1 0 1 0 9
W. Bede 2 1 7 1/4 0/2 0/2 3 33 2 1 3 0 1
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
J. Kabongo 6 2 1 2/3 2/2 0/0 3 13 1 0 0 0 2
I. Wilkins 3 1 0 1/3 1/3 0/0 2 16 0 0 0 0 1
P. Horne 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 2 12 0 0 1 0 0
J. Robinson - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Nolley II - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Radford - - - - - - - - - - - - -
B. Palmer - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 70 27 14 21/41 10/21 18/26 24 200 6 1 14 6 21
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
X. Johnson 18 3 5 5/9 2/4 6/9 4 26 0 0 5 1 2
S. N'Dir 12 6 3 2/9 0/5 8/9 2 38 3 1 2 1 5
T. McGowens 10 2 2 4/6 2/4 0/2 3 36 2 0 2 0 2
K. Chukwuka 5 3 0 2/3 0/0 1/3 4 18 0 0 2 2 1
A. Toney 5 4 1 2/4 0/1 1/2 3 37 2 0 0 1 3
Starters PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
X. Johnson 18 3 5 5/9 2/4 6/9 4 26 0 0 5 1 2
S. N'Dir 12 6 3 2/9 0/5 8/9 2 38 3 1 2 1 5
T. McGowens 10 2 2 4/6 2/4 0/2 3 36 2 0 2 0 2
K. Chukwuka 5 3 0 2/3 0/0 1/3 4 18 0 0 2 2 1
A. Toney 5 4 1 2/4 0/1 1/2 3 37 2 0 0 1 3
Bench PTS REB AST FG 3PT FT PF MIN STL BLK TO OREB DREB
K. Davis 7 1 0 2/4 1/2 2/2 2 13 0 0 1 0 1
J. Wilson-Frame 7 3 0 3/8 1/6 0/0 1 23 0 0 2 1 2
M. Ellison 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0
T. Brown 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 2 7 0 1 0 0 0
S. George - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Mascaro - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Starzynski - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Aiken Jr. - - - - - - - - - - - - -
O. Ezeakudo - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 64 22 11 20/43 6/22 18/27 22 200 7 2 15 6 16