Pitt hosted America East team Binghamton at the Petersen Events Center on Friday night in its penultimate non-conference matchup of the season, and the result was a 79-53 blowout that improved the team’s record to 9-3. Pitt got solid contributions from its entire starting lineup, but Justin Champagnie stood out, as he led Pitt in points and rebounds, with 14 and 10.
The double-double was the second of the Brooklyn native’s career, as his first came in Pitt’s 63-50 victory over Monmouth on Nov. 18. In addition, it marked the end of a three-game lull in which Champagnie struggled to produce offensively. That lull began in Pitt’s 71-60 win over Rutgers on Dec. 3, during which Champagnie was held scoreless in 27 minutes on the court. He was then held to one point when Pitt fell to Louisville three days later and managed a relatively low eight in Pitt’s 59-50 defeat of Northern Illinois on Monday.
“I thought the last game was really big for him, but ... he had had two games prior to that where he had no field goals, and that’s after winning the MVP down in Florida,” Pitt head coach Jeff Capel said of Champagnie after the game. “For any player, but especially a freshman, that can mess with you."
"His teammates do a good job giving him confidence," Capel continued. "He’s worked and we do extra stuff with him, but I really think having a couple of plays like he had at the end of the Northern Illinois game was huge for him. I knew it then, and I think that carried over. He’s also good against the zone because he can get in that middle and short corner and make some plays from there.”
In addition to Champagnie, Pitt got big games out of Abdoul Karim Coulibaly, Eric Hamilton, Xavier Johnson, Trey McGowens, Au’Diese Toney and Ryan Murphy. The 11-point game from Murphy, which included a 3-for-7 performance from beyond the arc, was especially reassuring for Capel and the Pitt faithful, as the former JUCO player went 0-for-4 against Northern Illinois earlier this week. Friday was the first time Murphy knocked down three triples in a game since Nov. 9.
As for Champagnie, his three-point shooting remains questionable, as the one negative aspect of his performance against Binghamton was that he went 0-for-2 from distance. Champagnie is 0-for-10 from three-point range in his last four games and has only made three-pointers in two games this season despite attempting at least one in all but one game. However, Champagnie has been a key contributor for Pitt both offensively and defensively, and with his double-double on Friday, he improved his season averages for points and rebounds to 10.1 and 6.3 per game.