posted in the thread Pitt at Georgia Tech - March 4, 2020 - 9PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 156 days ago
Once again, a game has gotten away from Pitt late
This will be their seventh consecutive loss, as they trail GT 68-53 with 3:16 to go in the game. The ACC tournament starts on March 10, and they'll have a chance to win at least one more game before the 2019-20 season comes to a close.

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posted in the thread Pitt at Georgia Tech - March 4, 2020 - 9PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 156 days ago
U16 timeout in the second half
Pitt trails 38-30. The deficit had gotten down to just 32-28 at its lowest point. Pitt is certainly still in this one.

Eric Hamilton is leading the Panthers with seven points and six rebounds, and is having a nice game for himself.

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posted in the thread Pitt at Georgia Tech - March 4, 2020 - 9PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 156 days ago
Halftime
Pitt has clawed their way back into this one, and is down just 30-21 at the half. Perhaps most surprisingly, Pitt hit three straight three-pointers after the last media timeout to get back into this one. I wouldn't necessarily expect that to continue, but they've put themselves into a position to have a shot in this one.

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posted in the thread Pitt at Georgia Tech - March 4, 2020 - 9PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 156 days ago
U4 Media Timeout
Pitt has 12 points in 16 minutes so far, and they're down 28-12 with 4:10 to go in the half. Pitt has hit just 4 of 18 shots, and they have turned the ball over 8 times.

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started a new thread on the Message Board 156 days ago
Pitt at Georgia Tech - March 4, 2020 - 9PM - Live Game Thread
Game Preview
Pitt (15-15, 6-13) faces off against Georgia Tech (15-14, 9-9) in Atlanta, Ga. in what will be the final regular season contest for the Panthers before the ACC Tournament begins six days from now, on March 10, 2020. The Yellow Jackets enter tonight's contest in the midst of a nice stretch of basketball, having won seven of their past 10 ACC matchups.

One of those three losses came in Pittsburgh, Pa. against the Panthers, as Pitt held on to beat Georgia Tech 73-64 at home. Since then, the Yellow Jackets' only loss was a road contest against Syracuse. This will not be an easy matchup for the Panthers, who stand to get a nice win if they can pull off the upset.

Players to watch:
Georgia Tech - Michael Devoe. Devoe had the distinction of being our "player to watch" for the Yellow Jackets for Pitt's Feb. 8, 2020 matchup with Georgia Tech, and here's what we said about him at that time:

Devoe, a former blue-chip guard prospect from the class of 2018, is Georgia Tech's top shooter. Not only does he lead the Yellow Jackets with 16.0 points per game, but he is a great pure shooter, hitting on 40.7 percent of his three point attempts on the year. Pitt has struggled at times this year at limiting the effectiveness of strong three-point shooters. Devoe gives them another test today.

Well, he delivered in a big way for Georgia Tech that day, scoring 22 points on 7 of 10 shooting (including 3 of 5 from three-point range) and seven assists. He did turn the ball over a whopping eight times, and Pitt's ability to force turnovers--22 for the game--is what ultimately helped them secure the win. Since that game though, Devoe has turned the ball over just 17 times, an average of 3.4 turnovers per game. A repeat of his eight-turnover performance a month ago is unlikely.

Meanwhile, Devoe has been averaging 14.8 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.6 rebounds since that contest, while shooting an impressive 42.1 percent from beyond the arc. To say that he's been crucial to Georgia Tech's success over the past month would be a big understatement. Pitt will need to slow him down tonight to have a shot in this one.

Pitt - Justin Champagnie. Champagnie has been a lightning rod for Pitt this season, willing the Panthers to a couple of wins in a similar fashion as Trey McGowens did a year ago during his freshman campaign. Against Georgia Tech on Feb. 8, Champagnie willed the Panthers to a home win with 30 points on 12 of 17 shooting (3 of 4 from beyond the arc) and nine rebounds. He was excellent through and through, and gave Pitt a shot in the arm in a game where both Terrell Brown and Eric Hamilton fouled out.
Since then, however, Champagnie has struggled mightily shooting the basketball. In the past six games--all losses--Champagnie has shot just 32.8 percent from the field, including a dismal 17.9 percent from three-point land. Not good. Still, he's averaged 11 points and 7.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game, showing that he still brings value to the team when he's not shooting well.

If he could shoot well today, that would be a nice feather in his cap to end his freshman campaign. I expect him to draw a ton of attention from Yellow Jackets defenders though following his monster game against them a month ago, and his most valuable offensive role today may be that of a decoy. If he's under pressure a lot today, look for McGowens and Au'Diese Toney to pick up the slack.

The Odds
According to ESPN, Pitt has a 27.4 percent chance of winning tonight's game. In KenPom's college basketball rankings, Pitt's slide has them sitting at no. 109 in the country, while Georgia Tech has risen all the way to no. 73. The game tips off at 9 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.

What do you think will happen today? Sound off in our live game thread! We'll be discussing Pitt hoops throughout the game.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 163 days ago
U16 media timeout in the game, and it gets worse
Pitt down 46-28 with 15:42 to go. The Panthers don't look much better in the second half than they did in the first half, as they're shooting just 22.2 percent in the half so far on nine shots. They have just one turnover in the first four minutes though, an improvement from the 12 that they had in the first half.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 163 days ago
HALFTIME: Pitt trails 37-21
The sloppiest half of basketball that I can remember from Pitt in several games. 12 turnovers. 13 personal fouls. Allowed Syracuse to take 16 free throws. Four guys with two fouls.

I'd hate to be in the locker room right now, for what can only be a very stern talking to from Jeff Capel and co. This team did not come out ready to play today, let alone win. Oftentimes, they do show a bit of a bounce back in the second half after bad first half performances. Let's see if that trend continues today.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 163 days ago
U4 media timeout
Syracuse leads 30-19 with 3:00 to go in the half. Panthers got close, and narrowed the deficit to 24-19, but a 6-0 Syracuse run has put the Orange up by 11. Lots of sloppiness for the Panthers since the last media timeout, as Toney, Johnson, and Coulilbaly each have two fouls now. Pitt has also turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, including four from McGowens alone.

They will need to be *much* better in the second half to win tonight, or to at least come close to knocking off Syracuse.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 163 days ago
U8 timeout in the first half
And Pitt trails 21-13 with 7:49 to go. Pitt has already turned the ball over seven times, which they simply can't afford to do against Syracuse given how hard it is for them to score against the Orange to begin with.

Terrell Brown has three rebounds and two points in seven minutes, which isn't bad, but he's struggled a bit defensively and has taken a couple of turnovers. Champagnie has probably been the best Panther so far today with six points and three rebounds, despite shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor so far.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 163 days ago
U12 media timeout
And with exactly 12:00 to go in the first half, Panthers lead the Orange by a score of 9-8. Pitt has struggled offensively so far, shooting just 3 of 9 from the field, and not yet registering a three-pointer. Three of their nine points have come from the free throw line.

Simply put, they'll need to do a bit better offensively to actually win this game. As far as an early positive goes, Buddy Boeheim has yet to score tonight, which is always nice from a Pitt fan perspective.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 163 days ago
U16 timeout in the first half
Pitt trails 6-4, but Toney is headed to the free throw line out of the break. Toney, it should be noted, has struggled at the stripe for the past few weeks despite seeing significant improvement in almost all other aspects of his game.

He's missed both halves of a two-shot shooting foul at least three times over the past five games. Let's see if he can make one (or both) of these here, and get back Pitt back to even with Syracuse here in the first half.

There's 14:48 to go in the half.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 163 days ago
Starting lineup
Anthony Starczynski, Eric Hamilton, and Samson George all started for Pitt today on Senior Day. Each substituted out around 18:30 to go in the first half, with the game tied 2-2. Johnson, Brown, and Champagnie in.

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started a new thread on the Message Board 163 days ago
Pitt vs. Syracuse - Feb. 26, 2020 - 7PM - Live Game Thread
Game Preview
--
Pitt (15-13, 6-11) hosts Syracuse (15-12, 8-8) in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Wednesday night, as they celebrate the graduating senior members of the Panthers men's basketball program. Notably, junior center Samson George will participate in Senior Day activities alongside fellow scholarship graduates Eric Hamilton and Kene Chukwuka.

This is an important development because it signals the likely end of George's athletics career at Pitt, which would seem to open up a fourth scholarship for the class of 2020. Pitt is still recruiting multiple 2020 players, including point guard Femi Odukale and forward William Jeffress. We will have more on this topic later, but for now, back to the game preview.

Pitt enters tonight's contest coming off of a close loss to Virginia at home, in which the Panthers mounted an incredible comeback that fell just short. Pitt fell to the Cavaliers 59-56 after a spirited 17 to 6 run brought them back from down by 14 points.

Syracuse enters tonight's matchup off of a home win against Georgia Tech, following three straight losses to NC State, Florida State, and Louisville. Pitt lost to the Orange 69-61 in their first matchup of this season, just last month in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

Players to watch:
--
Syracuse - Buddy Boeheim. Do I even need to explain this one? The sophomore guard and son of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has displayed an annoying penchant for destroying the Panthers early on in his basketball career. Through his first four matchups with Pitt, Boeheim has shot 52.8 percent from the floor with an even more ridiculous 54.2 percent from three-point land.

He's averaged 15.0 points per game against the Panthers. If you're keeping track at home, those numbers absolutely dwarf his career averages--39.8 percent shooter, 37.4 percent from beyond the arc, 10.8 points per game. Boeheim, through his utter domination of the Panthers, has quickly earned the ire of Pitt fans, and you can bet that he'll get plenty of looks tonight against a Pitt team that has struggled to contain the three ball against any and all opponents for the past month.

Pitt - Xavier Johnson. It's no secret that Johnson's sophomore year has been a bit of a disappointment after his All-ACC Freshman Team honors last season. The star point guard has still put up some good numbers this season, but has not yet taken the leap to the next level that many hoped he would make coming into the 2019-20 season. Well, he showed flashes of just how good he can be during Saturday's comeback against Virginia, posting 16 points on 60.0 percent shooting, a whopping six steals, four assists, three rebounds, and just two turnovers.

Johnson has done a nice job at limiting the turnovers this season compared with last year, and his assists have been on the rise. But the shooting just hasn't been there, and he has yet to show that he can consistently be a quality ACC defender. Well, he flashed brilliance against the Cavaliers, with the kind of shooting performance that Pitt desperately needs from him, along with stout defense that helped Pitt get back into the game late with a real chance to steal one away from a good ACC opponent.

The question is whether Johnson can build on that success and string together a nice stretch to end the season. If he can, Pitt may very well win a couple more ACC contests going into the ACC tournament--but it will heavily depend on the play of its sophomore point guard.

The Odds
--
According to ESPN, Pitt has a 49.2 percent chance of winning tonight's game. In KenPom's college basketball rankings, Pitt's slide continues and they find themselves ranked all the way down at no. 103 in the country, while Syracuse sits at no. 59. The game tips off at 7 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.

What do you think will happen today? Sound off in our live game thread! We'll be discussing Pitt hoops throughout the game.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
The comeback falls short
Pitt loses at home, 59-56. But what a game. Panthers end on a 17-6 run, but it wasn't enough to seal the deal. They had their chances, as a missed free throw by Xavier Johnson could have put Pitt within one at 58-57, and then perhaps McGowens wouldn't have settled for a three the next time down the floor.

The world may never know. But this team fought hard today, and it resulted in a really fun game to watch, a near victory against a likely NCAA-tournament-bound Virginia Cavaliers basketball team.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
Final media timeout of the game
Panther still trail big, 53-41 with 3:51 to go.

Toney has been the offensive story for Pitt today yet again, as he's got 10 points of 5 of 7 shooting. Brown leads all Panthers with eight rebounds, and Champagnie/McGowens each have three assists.

After keeping Virginia away from the line in the first half, Pitt has taken zero free throws themselves here in the second half, while Virginia has made six. Just as free throws kept them in the game in the first half, they've hurt them here late.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
U8 media timeout
Pitt trails 48-37 with 7:39 to go. After falling down 42-31, Panthers have maintained their current deficit, but haven't shown signs of being able to get back into this one.

Ryan Murphy's deep struggles have continued, as he's 0 for 5 from the floor today, including 0 for 4 from three-point territory. Including today, over his past six games, Murphy is shooting just 4 of 21, including 2 of 14 from three. Brought into the program to be a sharpshooter, that simply hasn't been good enough to get it done.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
U12 media timeout
And with 11:54 to go, Pitt trails 44-33. They're shooting just dreadfully in the second half. But, one positive:

Terrell Brown, with 11:54 to go, is just two rebounds away from the second 10-board game of his career. The first came against Syracuse in the ACC conference tournament last season, when he picked up 13 boards against the Orange.

Brown has looked aggressive and generally very good today, even with a rough 2 of 7 day shooting. He's got six points, eight rebounds, and a block.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
U16 media timeout in the second half
Pitt trails 38-31 with 15:57 to go. Panthers have basically gone with just a five man rotation today, as Toney (24 minutes), Champagnie (24), McGowens (23), Brown (20), and Johnson (15) have gotten the lion's share of minutes for Pitt today.

Johnson only sat as much as he did in the first half because he got into early foul trouble. Murphy leads bench players with seven minutes, and nobody else has more than three. Really shows you the state of Capel's confidence in his depth, especially with Eric Hamilton still on the shelf with an ankle injury.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
It's halftime
and Pitt trails just 31-29, with a real shot in the second half.

The biggest reason they're still in this one? They've stayed out of foul trouble and kept Virginia out of the bonus penalty for the entire first half. Pitt allowed the Cavaliers to take just one free throw all half, while the Panthers logged 11 attempts, making seven.

That kind of discipline and smart play will keep you in a game almost every single time, and we've seen Pitt do this many times this year.

That includes Pitt's game last week against Virginia Tech, where the Panthers were utterly dominated by the Hokies in Blacksburg, Va., but lost just 67-57 because they kept Virginia Tech out of the bonus in the first half (and until late in the second half), and took 18 free throws compared with just six attempts for the Hokies.

Let's see if they can continue that disciplined play in the second half.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
U4 media timeout in the first half
Pitt trails now 26 to 21, as the Virginia defense continues to smother the Panthers, who are now shooting just 38.1 percent from the floor and just one of four from three-point land.

Toney is 3 for 3 from the floor today, but yet again, starts the day 0 for 2 from the free throw line. Free throws are becoming a real issue for a kid whose overall game has made massive strides over the past three months.

Brown leads the Panthers in efficiency so far today (9.0), with four points, five rebounds, a block, and a steal. Johnson still has five points, three steals, and a rebound, but also picked up his second personal foul of the day.

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posted in the thread Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 167 days ago
U8 media timeout in the first half
Pitt trails 20-17 with 7:32 to go in the half. Pitt leaving points on the board, as they've missed four of their first eight free throw attempts.

Pitt's best players so far include Johnson with five points, three steals, and a rebound, and Terrell Brown with four points, three rebounds, and a block.

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started a new thread on the Message Board 167 days ago
Pitt vs. Virginia - Feb. 22, 2020 - 12PM - Live Game Thread
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to put together a full game preview for the Pitt game vs. Virginia, for which the Panthers are "Striping the Pete" today. Pitt and Virginia last played in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Feb. 24, 2018, in what I consider to be one of the worst games of the Kevin Stallings era.

In that game, Pitt lost 66-37, and mustered just seven points in the first half. At home. They made one basket. Ugh.

Anyway, the much improved Panthers (15-12, 6-10) still enter the game as underdogs against the Cavaliers (18-7, 10-5), as Pitt sits at no. 99 in the KenPom rankings, and Virginia sits at no. 50. Follow along here for the rest of the game for live coverage!

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posted in the thread Pitt at Florida State - Feb. 18, 2020 - 8PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 171 days ago
U8 media timeout
Panthers trail 68-51. This one is, for all intents and purposes, over. Everyone not named Toney or Brown was bad offensively today, as those two have combined for 16 points (10 of 15 shooting), while all other Panthers have shot 8 of 33 for 25 points.

Woof.

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posted in the thread Pitt at Florida State - Feb. 18, 2020 - 8PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 171 days ago
11:42 to go in this one
and Pitt now trails 58-44. Murphy just had about as rough a sequence as you'll see, as he air-balled a shot, whiffed on a steal, and then picked up the foul to give FSU an and-one in transition. Brutal.

Panthers need a run here. But it doesn't look good.

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posted in the thread Pitt at Florida State - Feb. 18, 2020 - 8PM - Live Game Thread by Ryan Schaitkin on the Message Board 171 days ago
Halftime, and Pitt trails by five
38-33 Florida State. Pitt has been fighting all night, and they're still in this one with 20 minutes ago.

Toney and Brown are the only Panthers with more than four points so far, as Toney (10) and Brown (9) are shooting a combined 8 of 12 from the floor. All other Panthers have combined for 14 points on 4 of 19.

An important element of Pitt being in this one is again, their ability to keep their opponent's free throw attempts to a minimum. Seminoles had just seven attempts in the first half, while Pitt hit 8 of 11.

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