PITTSBURGH – Blake Hinson scored 16 points, Jamarius Burton added 15 and Pittsburgh rallied past No. 11 Virginia 68-65 on Tuesday night.
The Panthers (11-4, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) used a 14-0 second-half run to get back in it and then took charge late to keep Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett at 326 career wins at Virginia, still tied with Terry Holland for the most in program history.
A layup by Federiko Federiko with 59 seconds left put the Panthers up 62-60 and Pitt forced the Cavaliers (10-3, 2-2) into a shot-clock violation on their ensuing possession. Six straight made free throws in the final seconds pushed the Panthers to their best start in ACC play since the 2013-14 season.
Kihei Clark scored 17 points for the Cavaliers. Armaan Franklin added 14 but Virginia’s defense crumbled over the final 20 minutes as the Panthers found their footing and kept finding ways to get to the basket for layups or draw contact to go to the foul line.
Pitt outrebounded the Cavaliers 32-28, outscored them 15-4 at the free-throw line and shot 52% in the second half to follow up a win over then-No. 25 North Carolina last Friday with another surprise. The Panthers ended an eight-game losing streak to Virginia.
The Cavaliers led by as much as 13 in the first half behind Clark’s shotmaking and a defense that prevented the Panthers from getting comfortable.
Yet Pitt, which is showing signs of making headway after four seasons mostly adrift under coach Jeff Capel, steadied itself behind a roster that’s mostly a hodgepodge of transfers.
The Panthers paid tribute to injured Buffalo Bills defensive back and former Pitt football player Damar Hamlin a day after Hamlin collapsed during Buffalo’s game at Cincinnati and had to be resuscitated on the field.
The players wore blue and gold T-shirts with “Chasing Millions” emblazoned on the front, the name of Hamlin’s foundation. Fans also stood and applauded during a first-half timeout as well-wishes from across the sports world flashed on the video board above the court. Hamlin is in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The Panthers wore a second warm-up T-shirt that read “Pitt stands with UVA” and featured the uniform numbers of the three Cavaliers football players – Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry – who were fatally shot on the Virginia campus in November. Davis, Chandler and Perry were also honored with a moment of silence before the opening tip.
Virginia: The Cavaliers’ defense appeared on its way to another typical lights-out performance after limiting the Panthers to 14 points over the first 16 minutes. It didn’t happen as Pitt started sharing the ball rather than trying to attack Virginia one-on-one.
Pitt: The starting five began the night having 88 combined starts at Pitt. Clark, by contrast, made his 121st start for the Cavaliers. Yet the Panthers are appearing to jell quickly, building on the optimism Capel had in the preseason that his group would make up for in collective experience what it lacked in familiarity with each other.
Virginia: Hosts Syracuse on Saturday.
Pitt: Hosts Clemson on Saturday.