Pitt found itself in a dogfight with Louisville at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesdatly night, but thanks in part to the phenomenal play of freshman guard Trey McGowens, the team was able to secure an 89-86 win in overtime. McGowens contributed 33 points in the game, setting a Pitt record, as no freshman had ever scored 30 points before.
McGowens’ performance was especially impressive, given the fact that most of his points came after he appeared to suffer a leg injury and limped off the court early in the first half. Despite that, he was able to re-enter the game a short while later and not only managed to keep the Panthers afloat, but furnished them with a comfortable 38-28 halftime lead on the strength of his 20 first-half points.
While McGowens cooled off in the second half to some degree, he still managed to pour in 13 points, including a vital layup on a breakaway late in the game that put Pitt up 88-86. All told, the freshman finished the night with 33 points in 37 minutes and shot 12-of-19 from the field, including a 4-of-7 showing from beyond the arc. He also had six rebounds, three steals and two assists in his best outing to date.
Pitt head coach Jeff Capel spoke highly of McGowens’ performance after the game, but perhaps the most effusive praise came from Louisville head coach Chris Mack.
”The backcourt for Pitt was phenomenal,” Mack said. “It’s hard to believe those kids should be high school seniors. They’re freshmen now, and they had their way with us.”
As Mack alluded to, McGowens wasn’t Pitt’s only notable contributor, as fellow freshman guard Xavier Johnson overcame first-half foul trouble and posted the second double-double of his collegiate career, adding 21 points and 10 assists. Seventeen of Johnson’s points came in the second half, as he got off to a slow start but ultimately served as an ideal complement to McGowens on Wednesday.
Johnson quietly made history himself, as his 21-point contribution extended his double-figure scoring streak to 15 games, which is also a record for Pitt freshmen. Since arriving at Pitt, Johnson has never scored fewer than 10 points in a game.
With the win, the Panthers improved to 1-1 in conference play, and they will look to build on their momentum when they head to Raleigh, North Carolina, to face the 15th-ranked NC State Wolfpack this Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.