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ACC Roundup - Pitt Upsets Virginia Tech, Virginia Tops NC State

As Jeff Capel steadies the ship for the Panthers

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Syracuse
Jan 6, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Jeff Capel reacts to a call against the Syracuse Orange during the first half at the Carrier Dome.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

In Wednesday’s ACC Action, NC State fell to Virginia, but narrowly, and Pitt knocked off Virginia Tech.

Jeff Capel opted to bench point guard Xavier Johnson, perhaps hoping for a better response and he really got one: Johnson shot 11-17 for 32 points, had seven assists, five boards and two steals.

He probably benefited from Virginia Tech’s decisions to double-team Pitt star Justin Champagnie.

Whatever happened, Jeff Capel tried to motivate his point guard and clearly, it worked.

Virginia Tech’s Keve Aluma is hitting a new level: he shot 10-16 and had 30 points, 10 boards and five assists. He’s having an amazing year.

Every rebuilding program has to get to the point where everyone is sick of losing, something Pitt’s Au’Diese Toney alluded to afterwards, saying, “It’s not a good feeling. Everybody had their heads down. That’s the feeling we had all freshman year when we were losing. I just don’t want to go back to that.”

So a good night all around.

NC State got DJ Funderburk back from whatever suspension he served but it wasn't enough against Virginia. State, missing its best player with Devon Daniels out for the season with an ACL injury, showed plenty of fight. The Wolfpack was down to Virginia for most of the game but fought back and took the lead with 6:22 left.

Unfortunately, Virginia usually closes very well and they did against NC State, forcing three turnovers in about a minute and a half to push out to a 55-48 lead.

It was a game effort by the Wolfpack but not enough. And remember in its last outing, Virginia lost to Virginia Tech, a game that saw Tony Bennett question his team’s toughness.

With the loss, State falls to 7-7 after a 6-1 start.

One special mention: ECU pulled off an upset of #5 Houston. We don’t know what Houston’s status is Covid-wise, but we know everyone in Greenville enjoyed that. So congrats to the Pirates.

No games until Saturday - we said that yesterday, but were looking a day ahead.

ACC Standings