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Pitt basketball defeats Slippery Rock in exhibition, 71-59

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NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt’s basketball team got off to a slow start against D-II Slippery Rock in their exhibition game on Saturday but pulled out a 71-59 win at home.

The Panthers trailed much of the first half but eventually grabbed a five-point halftime lead. They outscored Slippery Rock in the second half, 38-31, to win by 12.

Pitt did what they needed to here. A more comfortable win would have been preferred but this is also a brand new team with many guys playing their first collegiate game with a D-I program. There was talk of getting nerves out after the game and that’s to be expected with such a young team.

As I wrote in the preview, Jared Wilson-Frame will be one of the team’s leaders this year. That proved true as he led the team with 24 points on Saturday. He was 8-14 from the field and knocked down three of his five three-point attempts.

Pitt also got a couple of other nice showings. First, true freshman guard Marcus Carr had 12 points, six rebounds, and led the team in steals (3). Newcomer Shamiel Stevenson had 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

One thing of note is that Pitt’s two key returnees Ryan Luther and Jonathan Milligan made little impact. Milligan went scoreless in ten minutes of action and Luther had only five points in 21 minutes of play. luther got into early foul trouble and that was a big factor. I expect the team will get more out of Luther going forward, but as I wrote on Friday in that preview, Milligan isn’t guaranteed to be a big factor for the team.

Two problem areas for Pitt on Saturday were shooting the ball and rebounding. The Panthers shot just under 39% for the game and were actually outrebounded by Slippery Rock. The team’s lack of height that I spoke of in the preview is real but the Panthers need to find a way to be more effective on the glass. Getting outrebounded by a D-II program, win or lose, isn’t very encouraging. Some of that was due to Luther’s foul trouble and also foul trouble from Kene Chukwuka, who started at center and fouled out in only 16 minutes. Those guys will have to stay out of foul trouble and help Pitt on the glass. Chukwuka did have five boards in his limited action but Luther didn’t record even one.

The important thing here is that the team came away with a victory. But there’s obviously a lot of improvement that needs to be made going forward.

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