Lamar Patterson may have prevented Pittsburgh from sliding out of the Top 25 with a bounce-back performance earlier this week.
Now he'll try to help the No. 25 Panthers avoid overlooking the team occupying the ACC cellar.With a visit from top-ranked Syracuse looming, Patterson looks to build on a clutch effort as Pitt tries to send Virginia Tech to its longest losing streak in 12 years.Patterson leads Pittsburgh (19-4, 7-3) with 17.7 points and 4.4 assists per game, and the senior forward scored 10 of his 25 points in overtime of Wednesday's 59-55 win at Miami. Patterson totaled 24 points on 7-for-28 shooting over the previous two games, home losses to then-No. 17 Duke and Virginia."Being a senior leader I didn't want to just become a ghost when it came to overtime," Patterson said. "My team looked to me and I just wanted to come through for them."Doing so again would help the Panthers avoid a three-game home losing streak for the first time since dropping four straight Dec. 23, 2011-Jan. 21, 2012.Renewing their rivalry with former Big East foe Virginia Tech (8-14, 1-9) could be just what they need ahead of Wednesday's matchup against the unbeaten Orange.Pittsburgh has taken four straight meetings with the Hokies, winning 74-61 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament in the last matchup March 11, 2004.The Panthers seem to be in strong position to keep that streak going since the Hokies have lost nine straight while shooting 37.3 percent -- 29.1 from 3-point range.Virginia Tech hasn't dropped 10 in a row since Dec. 27, 2001-Feb. 3, 2002, and it got closer to matching that dubious mark with Wednesday's 70-50 defeat at Florida State. The Hokies hit 34.4 percent of their field goals, including 5 of 21 3-pointers."We didn't play as smart as we need to," coach James Johnson said. "They were just a little overmatched."Jarell Eddie, the Hokies' leader with 13.9 points per game, went 3 for 14 from the floor while missing 6 of 7 from long range to finish with seven points. He scored two in an 80-60 defeat to Maryland last Saturday, coming up empty on all nine of his shots, including five 3s.Will Johnston is looking to build on his career high-tying 12 points off the bench against the Seminoles, matching his total from the previous four games. The junior guard is averaging 3.4 points.Like Virginia Tech, Pitt is also having a tough time shooting of late. The Panthers have converted 32.7 percent from the floor and 8 for 25 from behind the arc over the past two games, but they're shooting 48.4 percent at home while posting a 12-2 record.