NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Jaron Brown and Pittsburgh took the first step toward defending their Big East tournament championship.
Brown scored 18 points as the sixth-ranked Panthers moved into the semifinals by grinding out a 74-61 victory over Virginia Tech.
Pittsburgh (28-3) placed four players in double figures to win for the 10th time in 12 games. The Panthers, who captured their first Big East title last season, will face Boston College in Friday's semifinals.
Carl Krauser scored 16 points, Julius Page added 14 and Chevy Troutman 12 as Pitt never trailed and shot 53 percent (24-of-45).
Brown turned in the best effort among the Panthers by making 6-of-9 shots and handing out six assists. Pitt had 17 assists on its 24 baskets.
"All in all, I think our passing was key in offense, the unselfishness," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "I think we executed very, very well in the halfcourt as well."
Pitt broke open a tight game with a 13-4 run to close the first half, including a pair of resounding dunks by Taft, to build a 34-24 lead. The Panthers forced 13 of the Hokies' 17 turnovers before intermission.
Krauser's 3-pointer with 17:44 remaining established Pitt's largest lead at 41-26. Krauser scored 12 points after halftime.
"I don't tell them much," Dixon said. "They figure things out, We've got smart guys."
Virginia Tech (15-14) pulled as close as six points down the stretch, cutting the deficit to 63-57 on freshmn Zabian Dowdell's basket with 2:26 to go. Krauser answered with a pair of free throws and the Hokies were stifled the rest of the way.
"We wanted to take better care of the ball," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "They put pretty good pressure on us in the first half."
Despite the win, the Panthers turned in a sloppy finish as they struggled from the line and kept the Hokies in the contest. Krauser attributed part of it to the noon start.
"Maybe guys were off a little bit, maybe the 12 o'clock game (affected us)," he said.
Bryant Matthews and freshman Jamon Gordon each scored 14 points to lead Virginia Tech, which made its last appearance in the Big East tournament. The Hokies are moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.