ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech went a month without winning a game. Even so, coach Josh Pastner had started seeing improvement in his young team over the last couple of weeks.
"I think we've gotten better, and we have gotten better," he said. "It just hasn't shown up in the win column. This league is incredible. It just so happens in this league, you can be getting better, and the wins just don't show up."
Jose Alvarado scored a career-high 29 points, James Banks had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots and Georgia Tech snapped a seven-game skid with a 73-65 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
In matchup of ACC bottom dwellers, the Yellow Jackets (12-15, 4-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) extended the Panthers' losing streak to 10 straight games.
Jared Wilson-Frame finished with 19 points and Xavier Johnson added 14 points for Pitt (12-15, 2-12). The Panthers missed 18 free throws and had 12 shots blocked, not surprising for a team that went winless in the league last year and is the ACC's worst team this season. Pitt has dropped 19 consecutive ACC road games and 22 straight road games overall.
"We have to be able to step up and make free throws," Panthers coach Jeff Capel said. "We got to the line a lot. We've been a pretty good free-throw shooting team but tonight, for whatever reason, we didn't make free throws. It just kind of became contagious."
Georgia Tech used a 17-0 run to take a 25-7 lead in the first half, but Pitt caused problems with its trap defense in the second half and pulled within one with 7:57 remaining on Wilson-Frame's 3. That was as close as the Panthers got.
Alvarado, a 6-foot point guard who didn't leave the game, even took some turns playing offense in the post. He went to the rim on a half court layup to beat 6-foot-10 Terrell Brown and make it 64-59 on one of the game's biggest possessions.
Banks was quickly whistled to become the second Georgia Tech player to foul out, but the Jackets avoided another big threat.
"I pulled out the muscles," Alvarado said. "It was a tough layup, and I'm glad I made it."
Pittsburgh: Johnson has 448 points, the most by a freshman in school history. He surpassed Charles Smith, who scored 435 points in 1985. ... If there's anything positive about the season, Johnson is one of five first-year players, including Trey McGowens and Au'Diese Toney, to account for nearly 60 percent of the offense. McGowens and Toney are freshmen. McGowens fouled out with 3:15 remaining, getting whistled the final time for an attempted trip of a Tech player.
Georgia Tech: After using 11 different starting lineups, the Jackets have gone two straight games with the same starting five — Alvarado, Michael Devoe, Banks, Kristian Sjolund and Moses Wright. It was kind of a risky move for coach Josh Pastner given that his team was coming off a 27.1 shooting performance, its worst of the season, against Florida State. ... Curtis Haywood went 2 for 4 beyond the arc, which might not sound impressive, but he had missed 30 of his last 32 coming into the game. ... the Jackets made nine out of 10 free throw attempts in the final 1:41, including a 6-for-6 effort from Alvarado.
Pittsburgh: Hosts Clemson next Wednesday.
Georgia Tech: At Miami on Saturday.
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