BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Coming off two losses in which it did not play particularly well and staring at the possibility of starting league play with an 0-3 mark, Virginia Tech desperately needed someone to deliver a marquee performance.
The Hokies certainly found their man in Kerry Blackshear Jr.
The 6-foot-10 post player dominated on the interior, scoring a career-high 31 points to lift Virginia Tech to an 81-67 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Blackshear made 12 of 16 from the floor in helping the Hokies (12-4, 1-2 ACC) snap a two-game losing streak.
"He was killing," Tech guard Justin Robinson said. "I knew he was feeling it. I just told him to keep shooting. There is no reason why he shouldn't shoot. That's why we kept feeding him the ball."
"I've got a bunch of shooters around me, and they were finding me when I was open," Blackshear said. "It made everything easier."
Blackshear made 5 of 7 from the free-throw line, and he even extended his game, draining a couple of 3-pointers.
More important than racking up personal accolades, Blackshear helped the Hokies avoid an 0-3 start to league play for the first time since the 2014-15 season - head coach Buzz Williams' first season.
"I think it's going to be the most volatile league year that it's been since I've been here," Williams said. "I think there's going to be a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I think we've created an expectation level at a very rapid rate, which I think is good, but it's also not necessarily stable. It's (the league) going to be hard."
Pittsburgh (8-8, 0-3 ACC), which has lost three straight, trailed by 11 in the second half, but went on a 17-6 run, tying the game at 51 on two free throws by Jared Wilson-Frame with 12:37 remaining.
The Hokies, though, scored the next six points, with Blackshear scoring four of them.
The Panthers again sliced into the Virginia Tech lead, cutting it to 69-64 on a layup by Terrell Brown with 2:22 remaining.
But Blackshear, as he did all game, answered, burying a 3-pointer with 2:02 to go to thwart Pittsburgh's momentum.
"With seven minutes to play, I thought we were in good shape," Pittsburgh coach Kevin Stallings said. "We missed a couple of open ones. They converted. We took a couple of bad ones, and now all of the sudden, we're looking at nine- or 10(-point deficit) instead of three or four. So whether it's a squandered opportunity . they're a good team, and we're a team that's trying to learn and trying to become a good team."
Nickeil Alexander-Walker aided the Virginia Tech cause by converting three 3-point plays in the final six minutes and finished with 16 points, and Ahmed Hill had 15. Robinson scored 11 points and dished out 10 assists.
Wilson-Frame led the Panthers, tying his career high with 20 points.
He and Parker Stewart each made four of Pittsburgh's 12 3-pointers, but the Panthers' 17 turnovers led to 22 Virginia Tech points.